May 6, 2011

Friday, May 06, 2011 - No comments

Robert Lang's Lawsuit against Sarah Morris for Copyright Infringement on Origami Designs

by Catherine Schofield Sezgin, ARCA Blog Editor-in-Chief

The ARCA Blog email received an email from Bay Oak Law in Oakland, California, which Robert J. Lang in a copyright infringement case involving origami crease patterns and the artist Sarah Morris who has used them in her artwork.

Robert J. Lang summarizes the lawsuit on his website and with his lawyer's permission we are recycling the information here:
For several years, American artist Sarah Morris created a series of paintings on the theme of origami in which she took origami crease patterns by several international origami artists, changed the color scheme, and then sold and exhibited them internationally without obtaining permission or giving credit. Six of the origami artists whose work was so used have filed suit for copyright infringement against Ms. Morris in Federal Court in Oakland, California. 
Review the filed complaint, as well as the first and second set of exhibits. 
Why did the artists take this step? Among other reasons, under American copyright law, the original artist has the right to control derivative works of our original works. (“Derivative works” are those works that are based upon our original works, but do other things to them – such as colorizing them, in this case.) As the original artists, they have the right to decide what you can do with their artwork, not Ms. Morris. Although they published our crease patterns, that does not mean we gave up our ownership rights to the original art works we created. 
24 of her works (listed in the complaint) have been identified as unauthorized copies of origami crease patterns by modern origami artists. As of May 4th, Ms. Morris has not answered the complaint.
The lawsuit was filed on April 28, 2011.  In addition to learning about copyright issues, this case informs readers about the complicated world of origami design.

We here at the ARCA blog of course won't reproduce an image of either artists' work until we have permission.