Early this morning (May 12th, 2009) I decided to look at who some of my Twitter followers follow. While exploring Twitter I came upon the profile for Interview Magazine ( InterviewMag ). The icon image on the profile caught my eye-- it was an image of Andy Warhol that I recognized. In fact, I knew the moment I observed the icon that it was an issue of copyright infringement. I recognized the icon image and had a gut feeling that Interview Magazine-- and more importantly, Brant Publications, Inc.-- did not have rights to the image. The artist behind the image did not receive credit from Interview Magazine.
Interview Magazine used Judy Rey Wasserman's Psalm 19 (Andy Warhol) without permission.
I knew the moment I observed the Interview Magazine Twitter icon that the image was from an ink on paper portrait of Andy Warhol by Judy Rey Wasserman. I quickly contacted Wasserman ( judyrey )on Twitter in order to find out if she was aware of how the image was being used. Wasserman replied to me two hours later and confirmed that Interview Magazine had not asked permission to use her work, titled Psalm 19 (Andy Warhol), as an icon for their ‘official’ Twitter account. I stressed to Wasserman that Interview Magazine’s action was a perfect example of copyright infringement.Interview Magazine Copyright Infringement Controversy on Twitter and Facebook Psalm 19 (Andy Warhol) Essence series 2007, Ink on paper, 12 x 9 inches by Judy Rey Wasserman -- which can be found at www.ungravenimage.com/essence.php and www.ungravenimage.com/blog. Check it out, Interview Magazine obviously did-- and have used the image in online branding / promotional efforts without giving Wasserman credit.
Oddly enough, Judy Rey Wasserman was thrilled that Interview Magazine had used her image of Andy Warhol as the icon for their Twitter profile-- even though they had done so without permission and without giving her credit as the artist behind the image. I understood why Wasserman was excited. After all, Interview Magazine was co-founded by Andy Warhol and Wasserman happens to be an admirer of Warhol’s work.
Wasserman was excited regardless of the fact that Interview Magazine had failed to ask permission or credit her. However, I still viewed it as an issue that trampled on the rights of a fellow artist. Wasserman did not agree with my opinion on the matter-- she stated that she felt like she had been “discovered”. My point-- if it happened to her it could happen to any artist. Thus, I decided to press on.
It was soon discovered that Interview Magazine had also used Judy Rey Wasserman’s Psalm 19 (Andy Warhol) as the icon for their InterviewNews Twitter account. Further still-- the same image by Wasserman was used on Interview Magazine’s official Facebook fan page-- without permission or credit-- as a way to promote the two Twitter accounts. Obviously the person(s) behind the accounts felt that Wasserman’s image was vital to their social networking branding efforts. I had to make sure that all three accounts were officially endorsed by Interview Magazine.Detail from Interview Magazine's official Facebook fan page.
As it turns out, all three accounts-- the two Twitter accounts and Facebook account-- are considered ‘official’ by Interview Magazine. In other words, they are not profiles ran by fans of the publication. Someone hired by Interview Magazine was behind the choice of using Judy Rey Wasserman’s artwork 3 times without permission or credit. In fact, Interview Magazine promotes the Facebook page on the art publications official website-- and the two Twitter accounts on the Interview Magazine Facebook page.
I contacted Interview Magazine by email in order to find out if representatives were aware that an artists work was being used in their online branding efforts without permission or credit. I stressed that I felt the action of Interview Magazine in this situation was very unethical. As I pointed out to Wasserman, would Interview Magazine allow an artist to brand his or her business with one of their magazine covers without permission-- no. Needless to say, I have yet to receive a reply from the representatives of Interview Magazine.
I wanted to give Interview Magazine and Brant Publications, Inc. the benefit of the doubt by giving them time to take action. Several hours after I contacted Interview Magazine by email action was taken-- the Twitter icons involving Judy Rey Wasserman’s artwork had been replaced by a photograph of Andy Warhol.
Obviously someone from Interview Magazine was aware of my criticism and had switched the images-- what can only be perceived as an admission of guilt. The images were removed-- however, as of this time Wasserman has yet to receive a public apology from Interview Magazine. Was Wasserman discovered by Interview Magazine? No-- her rights have been swept under the rug.
Several hours after I contacted Interview Magazine the Twitter icons featuring Judy Rey Wasserman's Psalm 19 (Andy Warhol) were replaced by a photograph of Andy Warhol. Representatives of Interview Magazine have yet to respond to the infringement.
For those who don’t know, Brant Publications, Inc. is owned by billionaire art collector Peter Brant. Brant publishes Interview Magazine and Art in America-- one of the highest selling art magazines in the world. In my opinion, the rights of artists have really went to pot when established art magazines use images of artwork for their online promotional and branding efforts without giving credit where credit is due.
The actions of Interview Magazine (or at least the employee who maintains the Twitter and Facebook accounts) begs the question-- is this business as usual for the magazine that was co-founded by an artist who stated “good business is the best art”. In my opinion Interview Magazine has displayed very unethical behavior in handling this issue-- bad business involving an artists work and a violation of her rights.
I realize that many will say 'It is just an icon'. It was more than that-- it was a clear choice in support of the magazines online branding and promotional efforts. It was a business choice that placed the rights of an artist on the backburner. That said, I suppose it is possible that the copyright infringement controversy surrounding Interview Magazine may only last 15 minutes.
Links of Interest:
Judy Rey Wasserman’s website
Links of Interest:
Judy Rey Wasserman’s website
Take care, Stay true,
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