Over the last year or so, George Zimmerman has been trying his hand as an artist after he was acquitted of murder in the self-defense shooting of Trayvon Martin and went into hiding. However, his newest painting has drawn complaints from the Associated Press for being based on one of its copyrighted photographs.
Last December, a Zimmerman painting of the American flag rendered in subdued blues was supposedly sold for $100,000 on eBay, though there was never any word on whether or not the winning bidder actually came through with the cash–a notorious problem with these sorts of high-profile auctions.
In December, as Zimmerman auctioned the blue painting, he explained why he made it. “Everyone has been asking what I have been doing with myself. I found a creative way to express myself, my emotions, and the symbols that represent my experiences,” he wrote in the auction description.
“My art work allows me to reflect, providing a therapeutic outlet and allows me to remain indoors :-) I hope you enjoy owning this piece as much as I enjoyed creating it. Your friend, George Zimmerman.”
For his sophomore effort, Zimmerman unveiled a new red, orange, and yellow portrait of former Florida Special Prosecutor Angela Corey with her fingers pinched together, sporting the caption, “I have this much respect for the American judicial system.”
The two paintings show that Zimmerman has a competent illustrator’s touch with the brush, but whether or not it’s “art” is in the eye of the beholder.
Art or no, the AP is protesting the second painting and warning Zimmerman that he’d better not try to sell it because the image he used of Corey is a copyrighted AP photo.
AP spokesman Paul Colford recently told Politico that the news agency has sent Zimmerman a cease and desist letter.
“George Zimmerman clearly directly copied an AP photo to create his painting of Florida State Attorney Angela Corey,” Colford said to Politico. “The AP has sent a cease-and-desist letter asserting its copyright in the photo to the lawyer who recently represented Mr. Zimmerman. That lawyer has responded, and though she no longer represents Mr. Zimmerman, she will be forwarding the letter to him today.”
Zimmerman would be well advised to pay attention to the letter if the experience of Obama “Hope” poster artist Shepard Fairey is any indication.
In 2012, Fairey was sued by the AP for using one of its photos of Obama for his iconic campaign poster. Fairey lost that suit and was sentenced to 300 hours of community service and put on two years of probation–not to mention being required to pay the AP $1.6 million in restitution.