Did Fashion Designer Rip-Off Artists?

I learned in Maria Brophy’s newsletter article an-open-letter-to-jeremy-scott-did-you-rip-off-artist-jim-phillips, that a popular Santa Cruz California artist, who has licensed his work to several companies, appears to have had his work copied (some with changes in the artwork) and printed on clothing by a fashion designer–unknown to the artist!

This High Snobriety article contains many details and images of the clothing printed with artwork side-by-side with the Jim Phillips licensed art.

What I learned from the Ted talk in the video below, is that there are many industries that cannot copyright their work. Here is a video transcript excerpt:

“You know, it’s not just the fashion industry that doesn’t have copyright protectionThere’s a bunch of other industries that don’t have copyright protection, including the food industry. You cannot copyright a recipe because it’s a set of instructions, it’s fact, and you cannot copyright the look and feel of even the most unique dish. Same with automobiles. It doesn’t matter how wacky they look or how cool they look, you cannot copyright the sculptural design. It’s a utilitarian article, that’s why. Same with furniture, it’s too utilitarian. Magic tricks, I think they’re instructions, sort of like recipes: no copyright protection. Hairdos, no copyright protection. Open source software, these guys decided they didn’t want copyright protection. They thought it’d be more innovative without it. It’s really hard to get copyright for databases. Tattoo artists, they don’t want it; it’s not cool. They share their designs. Jokes, no copyright protection. Fireworks displays, the rules of games, the smell of perfume: no. And some of these industries may seem sort of marginal to you, but these are the gross sales for low I.P. industries, industries with very little copyright protection, and there’s the gross sales of films and books.” (Applause) It ain’t pretty.”

Watch this video for some eye-opening information–


9 thoughts on “Did Fashion Designer Rip-Off Artists?

  1. Thanks for sharing my blog post, I appreciate it! With regards to copyrights, you may not be able to copyright a fashion design, but you CAN copyright art. And that means that it cannot be used without the (c) owners permission for anything.


    • Maria, Absolutely! Art is not on the list of things that cannot be copyrighted. Perhaps this is one of those things that happens that will help artists feel more important, successful and that their work is valuable to the world compared to other seemingly more successful endeavors to get into, such as fashion.


  2. Tina says:

    Phillips artwork was copyrighted. Good luck with that. I find it strange that Jeremy Scott would license the Simpsons art yet doesn’t even reach out to Phillips or SC Skateboards. He knows what he was supposed to do and disregarded it. As an artist himself he should show a little respect.


  3. Jafabrit says:

    yes, art is supposed to be copyright but HAH! I just learned hot to do a reverse image search and was shocked to discover just how many people have taken my images , a designer, an album cover, etsy seller, dvd company and others. I am so overwhelmed by it, The last four entries on my blog cover some of the copyright thefts. http://jafabrit.blogspot.com/


    • Jafabrit
      Thank you for sharing. I am interested in doing a blog post on my blog about you and your art that has been ripped. I haven’t had time to read your blog posts yet (only look at the pics) but I hope that you sent them cease and desist letters, or contacted etsy about having your infringed work removed, and/or contacted an attorney, such as a free attorney via Volunteer lawyers for the Arts. Best wishes!


  4. Jafabrit says:

    when you have had a chance to read the blog entries and see if there is a lesson I can share with others who are starting out. Email me at jafagirlart(at)yahoo (dot)com and I we can talk. I just feel like crying.


  5. Pingback: Copyright and the fashion industry – a TED talk | Bunka Gakuen University - Graduate School

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