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February 26, 2005

Ward Churchill: Copyright Infringer

University of Colorado Professor Ward Churchill has been in the news lately following his publication of an essay calling the victims of the 9/11 attacks “little Eichmanns.”

Professor Churchill apparently produces serigraphs in addition to his “scholarly” output. And one of these serigraphs, the 1980 work “Winter Attack,” is a fairly blatant copy of a 1972 drawing by Thomas E. Mails. So Churchill is an infringer. An interesting sidelight on the controversy, perhaps, but nothing gripping.

Then a local TV news reporter from Denver ambushed Churchill at his office, attempting to ask him questions about the similarities between the works. And Churchill slugged him, on video. (A full report can be found on the TV station’s site here. Be sure to watch the video. It’s really something.)

To paraphrase Donna Wentworth, that’s what I call a copyfight.

Is it infringement? Um, yes. He made a near-verbatim copy of the whole work, and has no real fair use claim. His only prayer would be a claim that the original work is uncopyrightable because it is made up entirely of scenes à faire, though that would likely fail.

Interestingly, it appears that at least one other Churchill work was also plagiarized, though in this case the source work is in the public domain, so there’s no infringement.

Via Copyfight and Michelle Malkin

Disclaimer Haiku:
West wind seems to say,
"This is not legal advice;
I'm not your lawyer."

(And if you're a client with whom I have a preexisting attorney-client relationship, this still isn't legal advice.)

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