Lawyers representing Jeff Koons, the pop artist known for remixing common objects and other peoples' art, have demanded that San Francisco's Park Life stop selling book-ends that look like balloon dogs. Koons's lawyers argue that since Koons once produced a set of iconic statues of balloon dogs, all representations of balloon dogs are henceforth Koons's exclusive purview, and anyone who makes or sells a balloon dog infringes on Koons's copyright.
I always say that every pirate wishes he was an admiral, but it's not often that you get as clear an example as this: having built a career on the flexibilities in copyright law that allow artists to make transformative use of the works around them, Koons now wishes to terminate those flexibilities and award himself exclusive rights over all the works he's made, and the works that inspired them.
This is a textbook case of why artists who argue against copyright flexibilities should be viewed with great skepticism; like the established fashion designers who say that it's unfair that clothing patterns don't qualify for copyright (and never mind the fact that all these designers benefited enormously from the right to copy popular designs when they were starting out), Koons believes that copyright flexibilities should only apply to him, and not to the artists who come after him.
lawyers of american artist jeff koons issued a cease-and-desist letter to park life, a small san francisco store and gallery,
asking them to stop selling and advertising their balloon dog bookends.
can koons own something that existed before him?
also considering that the artist has based his whole career on appropriating pop culture and has been repeatedly sued for
inappropriately using others' copyrighted images.
(Thanks, Greg Long!)