My friend, artist John T Unger – creator of copyrighted sculptural Artisanal Firebowls – is getting an unwanted education in copyright law, and is appealing to the online community to help him raise funds to win a federal court case that could have far-reaching intellectual property implications for the original work created by other artists and creative entrepreneurs.
If you make a living as a creative artist or in other creative endeavors, you could easily find yourself in Unger’s shoes one day. He is holding a fundraising sale of his most popular artwork to finance a defense in court. You can read all the details of the situation on John’s website.
Unger says Rick Wittrig, owner of FirePitArt.com, is not only manufacturing and selling products which are extremely similar to Unger’s, but also has brought a federal lawsuit to have the copyrights for Unger’s original artwork over-turned.
Attempts at settlement have been unsuccessful, Unger says, and “seeking a judicial ruling in federal court will cost more than any artist or small business can afford on its own.”
This lawsuit has gone forward despite the fact that, since 2005, Unger has built a successful career creating and selling his firebowls to individual collectors, galleries, churches, hotels, restaurants and public parks. Unger obtained legal copyright for his designs to protect his original sculptures from piracy.
John T Unger’s Defense Fund
Any weakening of copyright laws affecting the intellectual property of one artist could easily erode the rights of many others involved in creative endeavor. For that reason, and because I know John as a compassionate and generous person who has helped many people, including me, I am appealing to you to please help John by contributing to his defense fund.
According to the World Intellectual Property Organization, (WIPO)
“Copyright and its related rights are essential to human creativity, by giving creators incentives in the form of recognition and fair economic rewards. Under this system of rights, creators are assured that their works can be disseminated without fear of unauthorized copying or piracy.”
“I have no interest in imitation,” Unger says. “If Mr. Wittrig had spent the time, energy and money that has gone into this lawsuit on designing original work, with its own story and its own unique appeal, there would be plenty of room for both of us to succeed on our own merits.”
Great post, thanks! The struggle between creativity and commodity is clearly alive and well. The ‘story’ here, to me at least, isn’t this particular battle but the virtual arena it which it now takes place. Piracy, in all of it’s analog forms, requires a mix of speed, isolation and force to succeed. This contest, and others like it, will now happen in a virtual arena in full view of thousands, if not more. Newspaper people (back when there were some) had it right – ‘the best disinfectant is sunlight.’