Vatican sued for using Image of Jesus.

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Suranis
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Vatican sued for using Image of Jesus.

#1

Post by Suranis »

Ok my title was a bit click baity. :mrgreen:

https://www.snopes.com/ap/2021/05/25/va ... ting-sued/
Vatican Issues a Street Art Stamp, Ends Up Getting Sued
One night in early 2019, Rome street artist Alessia Babrow glued a stylized image of Christ she had made onto a bridge near the Vatican.

Associated Press

Published 25 May 2021


ROME (AP) — One night in early 2019, Rome street artist Alessia Babrow glued a stylized image of Christ she had made onto a bridge near the Vatican. A year later, she was shocked to learn that the Vatican had apparently used a reproduction of the image, which featured Babrow’s hallmark heart emblazoned across Christ’s chest, as its 2020 Easter postage stamp.

Vatican_Street_Art_42958-scaled.jpg
Vatican_Street_Art_42958-scaled.jpg (153.99 KiB) Viewed 2647 times

Babrow sued the Vatican city-state’s telecommunications office in a Rome court last month, alleging it was wrongfully profiting off her creativity and violating the intent of her artwork. The lawsuit, which is seeking nearly 130,000 euros ($160,000) in damages, said the Vatican never responded officially to Babrow’s attempts to negotiate a settlement after she discovered it had used her image without consent and sold it.

“I couldn’t believe it. I honestly thought it was a joke,” Babrow told The Associated Press in an interview, standing steps from St. Peter’s Square. “The real shock was that you don’t expect certain things from certain organizations.”

The Vatican is home to some of the greatest artworks ever made, and it vigorously enforces its copyright over everything from the Sistine Chapel to Michelangelo’s Pieta. But now the tables have turned, and the Vatican stands accused of violating the intellectual property rights of a street artist.
A lot more at the link.

Basically what happened is that the chief of the Vatican stamp office took a photo of what he assumed was graffiti and decided to use it, Every one of the higher ups thought it was a fantastic idea. Then they got sued by the street artist.

Unfortunately they have gone into silent defense mode rather than sorting this out with the artist, probably assuming (correctly) that anything they would do or say would be spun as being wrong.

I would say, honestly, that the Vatican does not have much of a case.


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Re: Vatican sued for using Image of Jesus.

#2

Post by zekeb »

Profiting off Jeebus? That's a rather novel idea.


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Re: Vatican sued for using Image of Jesus.

#3

Post by neeneko »

Sadly this is a bit of a blind spot a lot of big copyright holders seem to have. They more they see copyright as a tool for their use on others to protect their IP, they more they seem to see other people's IP as free for the taking.


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Re: Vatican sued for using Image of Jesus.

#4

Post by fierceredpanda »

I'm no Mike Dunford, walking expert on intellectual property law, but surely Jesus is in the public domain at this point.


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Re: Vatican sued for using Image of Jesus.

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Post by RTH10260 »

fierceredpanda wrote: Fri May 28, 2021 8:03 am I'm no Mike Dunford, walking expert on intellectual property law, but surely Jesus is in the public domain at this point.
This will be European / Italian copyright laws. The artist surrendered a unsigned copy of her original artwork as graffitti onto a public building. I understand she did not seek any permission to do so. The Vatican made a copy of that copy, did not directly reuse the original artwork. One could argue that they reproduced part of a public building that happened to display some artwork. I bet the artist will lose cause she had no permission to place the graffitti.


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Re: Vatican sued for using Image of Jesus.

#6

Post by sugar magnolia »

fierceredpanda wrote: Fri May 28, 2021 8:03 am I'm no Mike Dunford, walking expert on intellectual property law, but surely Jesus is in the public domain at this point.
But an artist's rendering of Jesus isn't.


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Re: Vatican sued for using Image of Jesus.

#7

Post by fierceredpanda »

I should have put a :rimshot: after my comment about the public domain. I was trying to be cute.


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Re: Vatican sued for using Image of Jesus.

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Post by Foggy »

Many years ago, ol' Wifehorn and I were invited to the baptism of a neighbor's child in a Catholic church. Now, y'all know me and I have nothing against the Catholics, and my three really long-term girlfriends before I got married were all Catholics.

But this church - in a wealthy California area - had a really weird image of Jesus, actually the big statue at the front of the church, above the altar. This Jesus was on the cross, of course, but he was a rich man's Jesus all the way. He was dressed in a brilliant white robe with a gold sash around his waist. No blood, no dirt, no pain showing on his face. You would never be able to guess that the story was, he was forced to carry the cross up the hill to Calvary or that it might in any way have been an unpleasant experience. He wasn't exactly smiling, but he clearly beamed with pleasure and obvious visible approval of the congregation.

He looked for all the world like any minute he was going to hop down and jump in his Mercedes-Benz and join you at your pool party on another perfect Southern California afternoon. He looked like he was really enjoying himself up there.

I've been in Catholic churches where the statue of Jesus made you cringe. Blood and pain and filthy robe, a stunningly accurate depiction of what he really must have looked like, if the story of the crucifixion was true (a point upon which I express no opinion). A statue like that really brought the story to life, for me. It made me realize how brutal and horrible a crucifixion really was. We've been discussing methods of execution in the Death Penalty thread, and crucifixion hasn't been discussed, because it's so very, very cruel and barbaric.

But in the suburban church, I saw Suburban Jesus. I didn't talk to anyone in the church about it, but I was really struck by the statue, and I remember it to this day. :think:


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Re: Vatican sued for using Image of Jesus.

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Post by neeneko »

Heh.

My memory is pretty hazy, but I recall one of the museums in pittsburgh had an exhibit of various jesus representations during the medieval era, and how each one matched the ethnicity and status symbols of the particular patron who commissioned it. Local rich people have red hair? Guess what, now jesus does too!


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Re: Vatican sued for using Image of Jesus.

#10

Post by northland10 »

Foggy wrote: Fri May 28, 2021 8:36 am But this church - in a wealthy California area - had a really weird image of Jesus, actually the big statue at the front of the church, above the altar. This Jesus was on the cross, of course, but he was a rich man's Jesus all the way. He was dressed in a brilliant white robe with a gold sash around his waist. No blood, no dirt, no pain showing on his face. You would never be able to guess that the story was, he was forced to carry the cross up the hill to Calvary or that it might in any way have been an unpleasant experience. He wasn't exactly smiling, but he clearly beamed with pleasure and obvious visible approval of the congregation.
There are actually 2 types of crosses (those with Jesus on/with a cross) seen at the front of a church, usually Catholic or Episcopal.

The Crucifix is Jesus hung on the cross. That is most common in Roman Catholic churches (and also on a beam high above the front of the chancel or choir in an Episcopal church (called a Rood, mainly in high church Episcopal).

The other is Christus Rex (i.e. Christ the King). This is more a resurrected Jesus instead of the crucified Jesus. I have tended to find this more common in Episcopal Church's (except for Lent, of course). I assume some or more "suburban" as others, as people love to make God or Jesus in their image.

Here is a smaller Cristus Rex from the church I attended up north (Episcopal)
st philips chancel - sm.jpg
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Re: Vatican sued for using Image of Jesus.

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Post by Foggy »

Yeah, you can't see his face, N10, but that dude is surely the best-dressed man in Jerusalem. Not everybody in those days could afford such a swank tailor to get you ready for your crucifixion. Nice.

I used to think that if you drove some big ass nails right through your hands and feet, there'd be blood all over the place. But that photo doesn't show any blood. Maybe he's held up there by Superglue or sumpin'. :daydreaming:
northland10 wrote: Fri May 28, 2021 9:04 am There are actually 2 types of crosses ...

The Crucifix is Jesus hung on the cross.
:snippity:
The other is Christus Rex (i.e. Christ the King). This is more a resurrected Jesus instead of the crucified Jesus.
Yes, but does resurrected Jesus get back up on the cross after he's been resurrected, like for a photo op? I pretty much thought that resurrected Jesus went straight up to Heaven. When they removed the rock from the entrance of the cave where they buried him, the cave was empty. He was already gone upstairs. I think resurrected Jesus would maybe have his hands spread wide as he ascended into the sky, but nailing you to a cross pretty much prevents flight. I'll be honest, if you had crucified me, even if I could get resurrected and be able to walk around and stuff, you wouldn't be able to get me to pose up on a cross afterward. You wouldn't be able to get me within a country mile of a cross after something like that. Nope, no thank you, I'll be washing my hair that day.

Maybe I have the story wrong. :confuzzled:
neeneko wrote:Local rich people have red hair? Guess what, now jesus does too!
Yeah, I can understand that. You don't want Jesus to look like a damn heathen. If you make him look like a Jew (Jesus was a Jew), people might even confuse him for an Arab! :o


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Re: Vatican sued for using Image of Jesus.

#12

Post by raison de arizona »

Foggy wrote: Fri May 28, 2021 8:36 am But in the suburban church, I saw Suburban Jesus. I didn't talk to anyone in the church about it, but I was really struck by the statue, and I remember it to this day. :think:
Great band name.

Struck by the statue? Hope it didn't hit ya too hard! :dance:

But yeah, it's weird the things that stick with us. My ex-wife was Catholic, and we went to church sporadically. Once with four small boys we showed up a bit late, figuring we'd hang out at the back. Instead an usher took us and our squirming LOUD goblin children to the FRONT PEW. I'll never forget his face and look of pity as he walked away. That was a long hour.

Didn't the Vatican stop accepting Italian laws around ten years ago? It seems like in my memories? Does that include EU? If it is even illegal, would that Vatican not just thumb their nose at it?


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Re: Vatican sued for using Image of Jesus.

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Post by AndyinPA »

Foggy wrote: Fri May 28, 2021 9:23 am
The Crucifix is Jesus hung on the cross.
:snippity:
The other is Christus Rex (i.e. Christ the King). This is more a resurrected Jesus instead of the crucified Jesus.
Yes, but does resurrected Jesus get back up on the cross after he's been resurrected, like for a photo op? I pretty much thought that resurrected Jesus went straight up to Heaven. When they removed the rock from the entrance of the cave where they buried him, the cave was empty. He was already gone upstairs. I think resurrected Jesus would maybe have his hands spread wide as he ascended into the sky, but nailing you to a cross pretty much prevents flight. I'll be honest, if you had crucified me, even if I could get resurrected and be able to walk around and stuff, you wouldn't be able to get me to pose up on a cross afterward. You wouldn't be able to get me within a country mile of a cross after something like that. Nope, no thank you, I'll be washing my hair that day.

Maybe I have the story wrong. :confuzzled:

This brings me to the cross I grew up with and most (many?) mainline Protestant churches have. There is no Jesus on the cross because he is resurrected.


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Post by zekeb »

If social media were around during his time I bet he would have posed on the cross.


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Re: Vatican sued for using Image of Jesus.

#15

Post by raison de arizona »

zekeb wrote: Fri May 28, 2021 10:49 am If social media were around during his time I bet he would have posed on the cross.
Artist's rendition...
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Re: Vatican sued for using Image of Jesus.

#16

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My family never went to church but I did get invited to attend a nice Baptist church with the neighbor kids once when I was about 11. Unfortunately I had a bit of a difference of opinion with the Sunday school teacher who actually went and got the Preacher after me but I firmly disagreed with him as well. He finally told me it might be better if I did come back to his church. I knew for a fact that people weren’t “created” that they evolved over time because that prior week in school had been about just that, evolution and my 6th grade teacher Mrs. Sherwood IMHO was the greatest teacher EVAH and she would have never told me anything that wasn’t true. :nope:

The next time I went to church it was a Pentecostal church when I was about 15, one of my other neighbor kid friends was going to sing in the choir and she invited me to come and hear her sing, I went and she sang beautifully. After a while in the service everyone stood up, so I stood up too and the preacher started to pray. Suddenly there was a great commotion behind me so I turned around to and was shocked to see some poor man had fallen to the floor and was having some kind of seizure. I quickly looked around and everyone else was still praying and hadn't even looked up. That shocked me even more so I started to yell for someone to help that poor man and no one moved, except my friends dad who took me by the arms and said basically everything was okay that it was just God talking through him. I suddenly felt like I'd woken up in the middle of some crazy nightmare. I pulled away from him turned around and ran out of there as fast as I could go. My house was only a couple blocks away and I didn't stop running until I got home.

I have attended weddings, funerals and other things in various churches from time to time over the years but never really had much use for religion. I guess I must have just gotten off on the wrong foot somehow :mrgreen:


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Re: Vatican sued for using Image of Jesus.

#17

Post by MikeDunford »

This looks like an interesting case, both because of the street art aspect, because the image of Jesus itself appears to have been derived from a public domain image, and, of course, because the Vatican is involved.

It's not my area, so I'm just going to sit back with the popcorn. But if Enrico Bonadio, who is quoted at the end of the linked article, thinks the case has legs, it probably does. He's also an Italian lawyer and might be the leading expert in the world on street art and copyright. And a really fun guy to drink with.



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Re: Vatican sued for using Image of Jesus.

#18

Post by Slim Cognito »

Foggy wrote: Fri May 28, 2021 9:23 am Yeah, you can't see his face, N10, but that dude is surely the best-dressed man in Jerusalem. Not everybody in those days could afford such a swank tailor to get you ready for your crucifixion. Nice.

I used to think that if you drove some big ass nails right through your hands and feet, there'd be blood all over the place. But that photo doesn't show any blood. Maybe he's held up there by Superglue or sumpin'. :daydreaming:
northland10 wrote: Fri May 28, 2021 9:04 am There are actually 2 types of crosses ...

The Crucifix is Jesus hung on the cross.
:snippity:
The other is Christus Rex (i.e. Christ the King). This is more a resurrected Jesus instead of the crucified Jesus.
Yes, but does resurrected Jesus get back up on the cross after he's been resurrected, like for a photo op? I pretty much thought that resurrected Jesus went straight up to Heaven. When they removed the rock from the entrance of the cave where they buried him, the cave was empty. He was already gone upstairs. I think resurrected Jesus would maybe have his hands spread wide as he ascended into the sky, but nailing you to a cross pretty much prevents flight. I'll be honest, if you had crucified me, even if I could get resurrected and be able to walk around and stuff, you wouldn't be able to get me to pose up on a cross afterward. You wouldn't be able to get me within a country mile of a cross after something like that. Nope, no thank you, I'll be washing my hair that day.

Maybe I have the story wrong. :confuzzled:
neeneko wrote:Local rich people have red hair? Guess what, now jesus does too!
Yeah, I can understand that. You don't want Jesus to look like a damn heathen. If you make him look like a Jew (Jesus was a Jew), people might even confuse him for an Arab! :o
When I lived at Lake of the Ozarks, I frequently traveled back to KC, about a 2-1/2 hour drive. About 30 miles from my place, I drove through a tiny village called Climax, Missouri (yeah, we've all heard the jokes). A church had a billboard advertising their service with a depiction of Jesus on the cross, but with no beard. Long hair, but no beard. Always thought that was weird.


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Re: Vatican sued for using Image of Jesus.

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Post by northland10 »

Slim Cognito wrote: Thu Jun 10, 2021 9:45 am When I lived at Lake of the Ozarks, I frequently traveled back to KC, about a 2-1/2 hour drive. About 30 miles from my place, I drove through a tiny village called Climax, Missouri (yeah, we've all heard the jokes).
I grew up in Michigan. I spent around 25 years near Climax. I only got there a couple of times.

Is this too much info?


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Re: Vatican sued for using Image of Jesus.

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Post by Slim Cognito »

northland10 wrote: Thu Jun 10, 2021 9:54 am
Slim Cognito wrote: Thu Jun 10, 2021 9:45 am When I lived at Lake of the Ozarks, I frequently traveled back to KC, about a 2-1/2 hour drive. About 30 miles from my place, I drove through a tiny village called Climax, Missouri (yeah, we've all heard the jokes).
I grew up in Michigan. I spent around 25 years near Climax. I only got there a couple of times.

Is this too much info?
Off Topic
About halfway down the lake, at the midway mile marker, there's a place called Big Dick's Halfway Inn. There's your problem.


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Re: Vatican sued for using Image of Jesus.

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Post by AndyinPA »

Slim Cognito wrote: Thu Jun 10, 2021 9:59 am
northland10 wrote: Thu Jun 10, 2021 9:54 am
Slim Cognito wrote: Thu Jun 10, 2021 9:45 am When I lived at Lake of the Ozarks, I frequently traveled back to KC, about a 2-1/2 hour drive. About 30 miles from my place, I drove through a tiny village called Climax, Missouri (yeah, we've all heard the jokes).
I grew up in Michigan. I spent around 25 years near Climax. I only got there a couple of times.

Is this too much info?
Off Topic
About halfway down the lake, at the midway mile marker, there's a place called Big Dick's Halfway Inn. There's your problem.
Off Topic
I think that place is in Alaska. Here in PA, we have Blue Balls and Intercourse.


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Re: Vatican sued for using Image of Jesus.

#22

Post by LM K »

neeneko wrote: Fri May 28, 2021 8:45 am Heh.

My memory is pretty hazy, but I recall one of the museums in pittsburgh had an exhibit of various jesus representations during the medieval era, and how each one matched the ethnicity and status symbols of the particular patron who commissioned it. Local rich people have red hair? Guess what, now jesus does too!
That's fascinating!


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Re: Vatican sued for using Image of Jesus.

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Post by LM K »

MikeDunford wrote: Thu Jun 10, 2021 9:36 am This looks like an interesting case, both because of the street art aspect, because the image of Jesus itself appears to have been derived from a public domain image, and, of course, because the Vatican is involved.

It's not my area, so I'm just going to sit back with the popcorn. But if Enrico Bonadio, who is quoted at the end of the linked article, thinks the case has legs, it probably does. He's also an Italian lawyer and might be the leading expert in the world on street art and copyright. And a really fun guy to drink with.

How would the Vatican know whom the artist was? How would they try to find an artist when there is no clue about whom posted their art?

While I understand that Babrow used her signature heart image which includes her initials, I truly don't understand how that's enough info for anyone to track her down. Babrow is assuming that her artwork is famous enough (and it is now) for her heart image to be enough to track her down.

I'm not arguing that Babrow shouldn't retain control of her IP. I just don't know how the Vatican would go about trying to find Babrow before using the image.

That said, it's absurd that the Vatican hasn't settled with Babrow. They should have already done so. Her monetary demand is tiny and there's no indication that she's operating in bad faith.

Vatican: "Our bad! We couldn't figure out how to find you. Of course we now recognize the image as your IP. Here's a check. Thank you for creating such wonderful work of our Lord and Savior."


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Re: Vatican sued for using Image of Jesus.

#24

Post by LM K »

A good article.

A Street Artist Is Suing the Vatican—and Turned Down a Meeting With the Pope—After She Says It Used Her Art Without Permission
:snippity:
Babrow’s image
depicts a painting by 19th-century German artist Heinrich Hofmann of Jesus with her own tag of a heart reading “just use it” written across his chest. She pasted the work, which she made in 2019, near the Ponte Vittorio Emanuele II bridge by the Vatican, but never expected it to catch the eye of church officials.

:snippity:
The artist has been making street art since 2013, and said she usually leaves her work unsigned. “I am considered a mix between Marina Abramovic and Banksy,” Babrow told Drago. “At least this is what some of the critics have written, and whether it is true or not, I am flattered!

“Copyright laws in Europe and the U.S. apply to outdoor artwork just as they do to paintings, drawings, or any other more traditional ‘indoor’ mediums. There is no difference in the degree of protection, and it appears that the Vatican has made a rather serious blunder by using her work without permission,” Jeff Gluck, a Los Angeles lawyer who helps street artists sue corporations for using their work without permission told Artnet News in an email. “We have seen this happen time and again with corporations of all sizes using artwork without permission.”

Babrow said that when she reached out to the Vatican, she was offered an audience with the pope and some free stamps in lieu of compensation. Babrow sent three letters asking the Vatican for recognition of her copyright before taking legal action, according to Vaccari News.

:snippity:
“Suing the Vatican was not really part of my plans,” Babrow told Il Fatto Quotidiano, noting that she has been known to allow the use of her work for free, but not without permission. “Unfortunately, this story is bigger than me.”


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Re: Vatican sued for using Image of Jesus.

#25

Post by sugar magnolia »

LM K wrote: Thu Jun 10, 2021 3:46 pm

How would the Vatican know whom the artist was? How would they try to find an artist when there is no clue about whom posted their art?

While I understand that Babrow used her signature heart image which includes her initials, I truly don't understand how that's enough info for anyone to track her down. Babrow is assuming that her artwork is famous enough (and it is now) for her heart image to be enough to track her down.

I'm not arguing that Babrow shouldn't retain control of her IP. I just don't know how the Vatican would go about trying to find Babrow before using the image.

That said, it's absurd that the Vatican hasn't settled with Babrow. They should have already done so. Her monetary demand is tiny and there's no indication that she's operating in bad faith.

Vatican: "Our bad! We couldn't figure out how to find you. Of course we now recognize the image as your IP. Here's a check. Thank you for creating such wonderful work of our Lord and Savior."
You might be surprised how easy it would be for them to identify and locate her, especially since she seems to be an established street artist. There are art experts (she mentions an art critic's comment on some of her work) who deal with nothing but street art, not to mention that they could probably post a picture on social media and have it identified in about 10 minutes. People post unsigned art in some of the art facebook pages I follow and there are very few who don't get identities or solid leads with just basic info, like where they got the piece, media, stuff like that. There are experts in the US who can watch graffiti go by at speed on the side of a train and tell you who or what city it was painted in.


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