Mary Katrantzou, the British designer praised for her inventive digital prints, once said of fast fashion imitators, “You can’t take it personally; everyone is being copied, and I don’t have the budget to sue.”
It’s ironic that she now finds herself on the receiving end of a copyright infringement lawsuit filed by Myoung Ho Lee, a Korean photographer. Lee claims that Katrantzou used his “Tree…#3” image, previously featured in The New York Times T Magazine and The Telegraph, without authorization. His complaint, filed in the California District Court, cites Katrantzou’s “T for Tree” T-shirt, which retails for $520 on her e-commerce site, as the offending garment.
The case will more than likely settle out of court but it does raise questions about creative license and intellectual property in the digital age. Since information is so readily available, are we to assume Katrantzou’s team came across Lee’s image on social media or in the press? And if an image varies slightly, as is the case with Katrantzou’s “T for Tree” shirt, does it still constitute copyright infringement? It will be interesting to see how the case unfolds.
[via The Fashion Law]