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June 24, 2012

The origami artist vs. the painter

Photo of Sarah Morris paintings

So often copyright cases are easy… an underdog citizen on one side, a huge corporation and evil unfair current copyright law on the other. But here's a copyright dispute where it's possible to be sympathetic to both sides.

Robert Lang is perhaps the greatest living origami artist. He's pushed the bounds of this ancient art and is the creator of numerous works that will make you say "I can't BELIEVE that's a single piece of folded paper!" (See for yourself).

Lang begins many of his projects by creating a crease pattern…a diagram showing how to fold a piece of paper to achieve the desired end product. (Here's a sample of some of Lang's crease patterns). The patterns themselves are attractive works of art -- intricate grids of lines dividing and re-dividing the paper into smaller and smaller regions.

Enter painter Sarah Morris. She saw Lang's crease patterns and used them as the basis for a series of large brightly-colored abstract paintings.

Lang says Sarah Morris ripped off his work. Morris says nonsense, that while she used the crease patterns as a jumping off point her finished paintings are unique independent works. In the words of copyright law, Morris maintains that her canvases are "transformative" works and therefore she did not infringe on the copyright Lang holds on his crease patterns.

Lang disagrees, and is suing Morris.

What do YOU think?

(via Make magazine and kpcc.org).

Comments welcome via email to comments-at-spurgeonworld.com

Posted by Chris Spurgeon at June 24, 2012 03:05 PM