Tuesday, February 07, 2006


Dear Crabby:

Friend ‘A’ is a professional photographer.

Friend ‘B’ is an amateur photographer.

I happen to know that Friend ‘B’ lifted a picture from the professional photographer's site and heavily Photo-shopped it.

Should I tell Friend ‘A’ (the professional photographer) about it?

I showed the photo-shopped image to a third party, and he said she did such a good job, it wasn't recognizable as Friend A's work. Please advise.


Well, Anonymous:

Clearly, it was recognizable – you recognized it!!!

Without introducing the rest of the alphabet into your equation, there’s a saying:

“to steal from one is plagiarism. To steal from many is research.”

I fly on the side of caution on this one.

You’ll often note that in my critique and review of certain questions on this site I use quotation marks to express thoughts that are NOT my own. If I can remember the source directly, I usually add it into my comment – such as, ‘Judy Judy says’ or ‘a Chinese proverb explains’…and so on and so forth.

Even if I can’t remember the exact source I always stress that the words being used are not my own. To do otherwise is tantamount to theft – because art, in whatever form it may appear (literary, sculpture, films, etc.) is the personal property of the individual(s) who created it.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with drawing inspiration from somebody’s work to get one’s own creative juices flowing.

For example – if I admired Andy Warhol’s paint study of Marilyn Monroe and applied those same techniques to my self portrait – I would consider that work my own. But I would have to acknowledge that my inspiration for the self portrait came from Warhol first.

However, if I were to merely take Warhol’s Marilyn and photoshop it so that the colors, textures and grain were different I could not, in good faith, consider that work to be mine.

After all – the photographs were NOT taken by me.
The choice to ink and paint them in the first place was NOT mine.

Otherwise, anyone can photoshop someone else’s work and claim it’s theirs.

No…no…that’s not Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa.

I painted the moustache on her myself, and I cut the eye holes out.

You get my meaning here, I hope.

There’s another old expression floating around out there that says

“imitation is the cheapest form of flattery.”

But I doubt your pro photographer friend would find consolation in that adage – particularly if he discovered his work being sold – or even marketed as intellectual property - under someone else’s name.

Bottom line: you should tell the shutter bug that his eight by tens are being used without his permission. It will be up to him to decide the severity of infringement and further course of action.

Perhaps the person who stole the property and flashbulb Chester can strike a chord of agreement – say, she uses the photo- shopped pictures but provides a credit at the bottom that reads something to the effect of “inspired by the works of…” or “in collaboration with…”

Hope this was useful,

Yours truly,
The Crabby Critic

…oh, and by the way, the hip babe getting ready to pour me a drink in the above photo-shopped photo belongs to Johannes Vermeer (1632-75).

Send your comments to
:the Crabby Critic

...on any subject you choose!

– he’ll get back to you before you get as old as this babe.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Crabby Critic: What are your views on homeschooling? Signed, Concerned in Canada

February 07, 2006  

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