Art4Love: Massive Copyright Fraud
Christina Dideriksen for COMPANY
(August 31, 2011) While we've been debating the finer points of inspiration vs. copyright infringement , a serious case of art theft has been going on down the interwebs. Art critic and blogger Brian Sherwin alerted us to the situation involving Art4Love and various digital artists, particularly those displaying their work on the site deviantART.com.
Art4Love was a website that appeared in 2005, owned by Art4Love , Inc., a New York, NY-based organization and physical gallery space A4L Gallery in NYC. Founded by art consultant Chad Love-Lieberman, an Art4Love press release describes the company as: “an emerging growth art company with access to the works of 1,300 artists from 45 countries, representing the rights of almost 18,000 pieces of original artwork by both established and emerging artists worldwide." Art4Love claimed to help generate more sales for the artists involved and prominently claimed relationships with major art establishments, including Artnet.com.
In the past month it has come to light that a huge percentage of the pieces displayed by Art4Love are in fact images stolen from the digital files on other websites. Chad Love-Lieberman was harvesting high quality image files from these sites and using them to print and sell canvases on his own site without the artists' knowledge, let alone permission. Site deviantArt.com is cooperating with fraud investigations while those affected are continuing a massive outreach to identify artists with their rightful work for an upcoming lawsuit. Check out Brian Sherwin’s extensive coverage of the issue.
The whole affair had thus far slid under our radar here at COMPANY probably because the artists being exploited are relatively unknown digital artists. Yet we appreciate Sherwin bringing it to our attention. Like many other industries, we firmly believe that art commerce will continue to move into the digital world. COMPANY is the only secondary market and community at this point that caters exclusively to collectors, however there are now several other online art groups that are artist driven including ArtSpace, ArtWeLove, and ArtStar. Online art commerce cannot thrive without the use of these same high quality images that Love-Lieberman stole for his own use. Until the world catches up with science fiction and 3D holographic projections become part of our lives, we need these high-res images to convey the quality of our collections. As a community we put our faith in the honesty of our fellow artists and collectors.
The high profile cases of Richard Prince vs Patrick Cariou and Ryan McGinley vs “Jah Jah” Gordon show that even the established art world is dancing on the edge of propriety, pushing the boundaries of creative ownership. Yet I find myself shocked at the audacity Love-Lieberman shows ripping, printing, and selling even an unknown artist's work. His blatant lie that he somehow is helping these artists completely devalues projects such as our own Limited Editions in which artists profit share.
I urge artists and art enthusiasts to keep up with the outcome of this case. It may be idealistic to believe we can protect the integrity of online art commerce. Yet I believe we have to try.