Stealing ‘Peter’s Houseboat:’ Another Artist Copyright Infringement

07.01.10 Marina Galperina

Peter's Houseboat, Winona, Minnesota 2002 When the publishers of Winter’s Bone pitched the cover to photographer Alec Soth, they pinned an obviously photoshopped girl to his meditative photograph. He rejected the cover, so they recreated the photograph and printed it anyway.

winter's bone
Left: rejected proposal. Right: printed cover.

Some of Alec Soth’s work has already been beautifully used for book covers, so if this rip-off lowers the value of Peter’s Houseboat for future commercial use, there’s a legal case. But regardless of law, this is a lazy and dickish move.

There are plenty of creative people and artists who migrated into the advertising industry who can be commissioned (or payed hourly) to make original work. There are also smart non-art ad-people who simply don’t steal like this. But, as in the case of AT&T pillaging Christo & Jeane-Claude and Apple sleazily ripping of Christian Marclay, there’s a lot of “borrowing” going on – a typical practice in the industry, but a practice that can be gracefully and successfully handled with payment, credit and care. Sadly, this wasn’t the case for Alec Soth, who happens to be a great photographer (see some of his work below and on his site, and read about it here).

See also: Is Appropriating an Appropriated Image Illegal?