Visual Art Plagiarism : Home
This guide will help clarify inspiration & plagiarism in the visual arts including architecture, art, & design.
This guide was created by Mississippi State University librarian Corrine Kennedy. The original can be found here.
The guide will help you understand what Visual Plagiarism is and how to avoid it. Visual Plagiarism can also be known as Art Theft. When one uses either term, they are referring to the taking of someone else's artwork or design and claiming it as one's own. This can include artwork like drawing, painting, sculpture, and photography, as well as advertisements, logos, brand names, and other visual imagery. Additionally, you will learn about the grey areas in design known as pastiche, homage, and parody in regard to another’s creative visual material, as well as the ethical and legal implications. Images used for examples in this guide were either found using a Creative Commons search, permission from the creator, or in the public domain.
Visual Plagiarism and Copyright in the News
- Supreme Court justices take much more than 15 minutes to consider Andy Warhol's silkscreens of Prince CNN - Wed October 12, 2022 "Central to the case is whether the late Andy Warhol infringed on a photographer’s copyright when he created a series of silkscreens of the musician Prince. At issue is the so called “fair use” doctrine in copyright law that permits the unlicensed use of copyright-protected works in certain circumstances. In the case at hand, a district court ruled in favor of Warhol, basing its decision on the fact that the two works in question had a different meaning and message. But an appeals court reversed – ruling that a new meaning or message is not enough to qualify for fair use. Now the Supreme Court must produce the proper test that protects artist’s rights to monetize their work, but also encourages new art. They did not seem enthusiastic about a lower court decision, but it was difficult to ascertain how they would finally come out in the case."
- The Supreme Court’s Self-Conscious Take on Andy Warhol The New Yorker Oct 19, 22 - "In a copyright case, the Justices revealed their own anxieties about interpreting precedents...Copyright cases concerning artistic works always bring out anxieties about judges, whose legal training seemingly puts them at a remove from art criticism. Justice Samuel Alito aired the obligatory worry, saying, “Maybe it’s not so simple, at least in some cases, to determine what is the meaning or the message of a work of art. There can be a lot of dispute about what the meaning or the message is.” Chief Justice Roberts underscored lawyers’ self-understanding as philistines, telling the Warhol Foundation’s attorney, “you and I might think there’s no difference” in meaning between a blue painting and a yellow painting “but I’m sure there’s art critics who will tell you there’s a great difference between blue and yellow.” But, as legal interpreters, judges are critics whose craft is to apply precedents by making fine distinctions that have huge consequences. And when they instead throw out precedents, they open themselves up to charges of not acting like judges, like those that accompanied Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization."