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I'm not being contrary for the sake of it, or suggesting that circumventing copyright laws is ok, but really, if you take someone else's image and mess around with it and manipulate it to fit your own vision of a Tshirt, providing the source image is not obvious, are your actions truly against the spirit of copyright law? Secondly, however are you going to get "caught" anyway?

The twelve bar blues is a musical format that has been plundered endlessly, even by the early bluesmen, whose originality lay not in the structure itself, but in their interpretation of it and the channeling of their own songs through it. No one questions their copyright. No one questions the originality of Chuck Berry's adaptation of the blues, or that of the Stones and any number of rock and roll acts that have drawn on the blues to produce their original material. I can't see how manipulating an image to serve your own original artistic vision is any different from many thousands of manipulations of the 12 bar blues format that are all recognised as original works.
 

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My comment: ...if you take someone else's image and mess around with it and manipulate it to fit your own vision of a Tshirt, providing the source image is not obvious, are your actions truly against the spirit of copyright law?

Yes. (Somu's response)

I wasn't actually asking the question, Solmu - it was rhetorical. I was coming from a philosophical angle, not a legal one. I understand your points about copyright law (although I don't think it's anywhere near as black and white as you are insisting - the law rarely is with such matters).

Solmu and Monkeylantern,

I have no doubt that you are both correct in your assertions that it is easily possible to identify manipulated art and its original source. My point, though, is that with many thousands of little Tshirt companies out there, the odds of anyone in the know actually seeing manipulated art in the first place to identify it are very tiny. Not that I'm advocating breaking the copyright laws...

Solmu: "Music and visual art clearly aren't the same thing. Besides that... they're not all recognised as original works... that's sort of the point."

No, it's not the point I was making at all. Of course, music and visual art aren't "the same thing", but my ANALOGY between the use of the 12 bar blues structure as a foundation for endless varieties of original songs and a source image as a foundation for the creation of a derivative, but variant image in the service of a new, original design vision holds true for art design, at least in the context in which I was writing.

Solmu goes on: "12 bar blues format is like the 256 colour palette - it's a medium in which to create something from scratch. You're not meant to take someone's composition and change a few notes, or take someone's image and change a few pixels."

With respect, this is nonsense. The 12 bar blues structure is nothing like the 256 colour palette. The western scale of notes equates to the 256 colour palette. 12 bar blues uses a chord progression derived from the western scale, then the melodies that arise from that chord progression complete the blues song (performance factors aside - but we are talking pure theory here, because in blues the performance is integral to the art). The 12 bar structure is not "a medium in which to create something from scratch". It is a progression that has already been created from "scratch", "scratch" being the western scale.

Similarly, I would argue (philosophically, not legally, although I really do not think the two can always be neatly separated) that just as there are thousands of blues songs that vary very little on paper, all sharing exactly the same chord progression, and many sharing almost identical melodies, the points of differentiation being in the performance and lyrics, there can be designs that share the same representational form, while retaining a sense of originality that derives from the artist's unique vision and the treatment of that representational form in the service of that vision.

I disagree, also, with your declaration: "You're not meant to take someone's composition and change a few notes, or take someone's image and change a few pixels." That is clearly not supported by the evidence in music. Many, many blues songs barely even change "a few notes" - all that changes in many cases is the vocal and instrumental interpretation and the lyrics. Change those things enough and you move to a completely different genre - rock and roll - while retaining very similar melodies and the exact chord progression of hundreds of blues songs that came before.

I would contend that representational art should not be copyrightable at all. The form of an apple, for example, comes from nature - it just is. If an artist draws that apple purely representationally, where is the art? There is craft, certainly, but I would contend that there is no art. Can you copyright craft? I think not.

Even non-representational art is a grey area in terms of "originality". Someone like Picasso has an original vision, and with Braque, kicks off the cubism movement. Other artists "see" differently for the first time thanks to Picasso, and start creating their own interpretations of that original vision. Can Picasso copyright his vision? No. So, even non-representational art is a grey area in terms of originality and therefore, copyright.

Philosophically, I don't see why it is not valid to take a design, manipulate it in pursuit of your own, unique vision, and end up with a new design, and I do not see why any infringement of copyright has taken place. Passing off another artist's actual work as your own is quite clearly, of course, an infringement of copyright, but the manipulation of a design to arrive at another design? This is territory that invokes the charge that the law is an ***, since the law denies the unarguable truth that ALL art is allusory in its basic nature.
 

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Monkeylantern,

Re: "Would you like it if someone took all your designs, spent 10 minutes in Photoshop tweaking them, and then sold them as their own?"

Of course not, and that's not what I'm saying. If there is only a bit of token change for the purpose of getting away with intellectual property theft, that is reprehensible - no different from changing the registration plates on a stolen car and selling it as your own. However, if someone were to use one of my designs as the starting point for creating their own design, and that new design broadcast a different message from my own, based on a design concept that was original, I would not feel ripped off at all. In fact, I'd be pleased to have provided the foundation for the realisation of a new vision that worked artistically. I mean it.
 

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Solmu

Sadly, discussion on any rational level does not appear possible with you, since your idea of argument appears to be to simply declare me wrong without providing any rational evidence other than that you say so.

eg: You were found wanting in your fatuous equating of the 12 bar blues structure to the 256 colour palette, but rather than concede on this point (any rational examination of the facts dumps your contention square on its bum), you simply resort to the schoolyard nah nah nah nah nah retort of "your analogy was flawed". Let's have a bit of sensible discussion here. I responded in depth as to why your parallelling of the blues chord progression with the 256 colour palette was invalid. How about you pay me the same compliment? If my analogy was flawed, as you claim, how so?

Your statement that "rhetorical questions are only asked because the person doesn't want an answer - not because it's unanswerable" is about as silly a comment as I've come across. It doesn't even make basic sense. Rhetorical questions function as an answer in themselves, not because the person asking them doesn't want an answer! And as for it being unanswerable - what on earth are you talking about?

And what's the "incorrect assumption" you claim I was making? I'm happy to debate anything I said, but it's difficult when I have no idea what you're on about.

I am NOT advocating breaking copyright laws, yet you insist I am. You seem to have trouble understanding much of the content of my posts, yet you know better than I what I am saying? Isn't that a little arrogant? Obtuse, even?

Craft can be copyrighted, can it? Give me a single example, anywhere. What utter rubbish. It's intellectual property that is copyrighted, not craft.

You dismiss my comment that representational art should not be copyrightable at all as "political" and declare it has nothing to do with these forums. Firstly, please explain how it is political. Secondly, since my comment directly addresses the question of copyright, which would appear to be the central concern of this thread, please explain how it has no relevance to this forum.

I take exception to your offensive and untrue accusation that I am advocating copyright infringement "as practical advice" or in any other way. I am not. None of my posts above are in any way expressed as practical advice. I am merely arguing a set of philosophical points which appear to be too challenging for you to properly comprehend. I doubt that many others are finding my arguments similarly challenging. Whatever, lacking comprehension does not give you the right to level completely unwarranted and insupportable accusations at me that amount to charging me with actively promoting criminal behaviour. Suggest you try thinking a little before you lash out as some sort of petulant ego-driven response to having your opinions challenged. You're a big boy now.
 
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