Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Che, Korda, Fashion Victims & those Damn Lawyers

Che Guevara, Cuban revolutionary & 20th Century pop idol. This, the most well known image of him was taken by fellow Communist Alberto Korda and used as the basis for Jim Fitzpatrick's red & black line art. Appearing on everything from posters to mugs to T-Shirts, Fitzpatrick's image has probably graced more college walls & breasts than any other. Korda himself never asked for royalties from the image, preferring that it be used "by those who wish to propagate his memory and the cause of social justice throughout the world." It wasn't until Smirnoff appropriated the image for an ad in 2000 that he even (successfully) claimed copyright.

Now it seems that Korda's egalitarian spirit passed away with him in 2001. Lawyers representing the family estate have not only pursued perceived infringers vigorously but also licensed the image (and any others based on it) to Atlanta based Fashion Victim. In typical high handed style, internet specialties company CafePress has been "cease & desisted" even for images which are merely artistic renderings of Korda's photograph.

From Fashion Victim's website: "Join the revolution with us here at Fashion Victim! These are revolutionary times, so where better to get the gear you need. We have all the latest designs in the world of propaganda and revolution, not to mention we are the only licensed retailers of Che Guevara shirts in the US of A."

The shirts themselves are apparently not made in the US of A, but then perhaps that's the ultimate statement in this whole sorry case. Revolutionary wear made in sweatshops, no coincidence then that the word revolting comes from the same root.

1 comment:

bking39116 said...

Will the revolution be televised? Hope it's not on against American Idol...