3 Count: GoFundPlagiarism?

When a mural to unite, divides.

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1: ‘Remix’ or plagiarism? Artists battle over a Chicago mural of Michelle Obama

First off today, Derek Hawkins at The Washington Post reports that Chicago artist Chris Devin is being accused of plagiarism in a public mural that he created in part with funds raised on GoFundMe.

According to New York-based artist Gelila Mesfin, in November 2016, she posted a portrait of Michelle Obama wearing an Egyptian headdress. Months later, Devin launched a GoFundMe campaign and received nearly $12,000 to paint a very similar image on a mural Obama’s native Chicago.

Devin does not deny that his work is based on Mesfin’s but says that he was merely doing what mural artists have long done, reinterpreting an existing image for a larger work. Devin said he had no intention of crediting Mesfin or the original photographer, New York Times photographer Collier Schorr. However, Mesfin credited Schorr in her original Instagram post. Still, Devin says he did not make any money off the installation and that the two sides are in negotiation on how to move forward.

2: RIAA Follows BMG’s Lead, Sues ISP for Failing to Stop Repeat Infringers

Next up today, Chris Cooke at Complete Music Update reports that the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has filed a lawsuit against Grande Communications, alleging that the ISP does not do enough to stop piracy on its network despite repeated notices.

The lawsuit follows a similar tactic from music publisher BMG, which successfully sued Cox Communications on similar grounds. In that lawsuit, BMG alleged that Cox did not terminate repeat infringers or take any other meaningful action to stop piracy. BMG won lower court decisions and won again on appeal.

The RIAA is now applying that same formula in a lawsuit against a different ISP, another one that they feel does not do enough to prevent piracy. Once again, they claim that Grande Communications does not have an effective policy for terminating repeat infringers and that the lack of such policy disqualifies them from safe harbor protections provided under the law.

3: Ex-employee Sues D-303 for More than $100k, Alleging Copyright Infringement, Harassment

Finally today, Brenda Schory at Kane County Chonricle reports that, in Illinois, a former employee of the St. Charles School District 303 is suing the district for copyright infringement of software she wrote as well as harassment and intimidation.

The lawsuit was filed by Audrey Shanton and also names her union as a defendant. According to Shanton, in 2005 she and her husband wrote a software program that would help track and evaluate issues related to the schools. They gave the district the right to use the program but reserved the rights to do updates and modifications.

However, she claims that, before the 2015-2016 school year, the district said it was using a different applications. According to Shanton, when she evaluated the software, she found it was simply a reverse-engineered version of her creation. She goes on to say that her protests prompted a cycle of harassment that made it impossible for her to do her job forcing her to resign and suffering severe financial damages.


That’s it for the three count today. We will be back tomorrow with three more copyright links. If you have a link that you want to suggest a link for the column or have any proposals to make it better. Feel free to leave a comment or send me an email. I hope to hear from you.

The 3 Count Logo was created by Justin Goff and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License.