20 May 2003 @ 3:45 PM 

Cafepress has been told I’m violating the copyrights of Albert Korda with an image of Che Guevara I was using on some products that nobody ever bought. Apparently Señor Korda’s estate is more interested in his intellectual property than he ever was. There are many concepts involved in this case, and I’ll lay them out for you.

  • Korda said specifically that he wanted people to copy and spread the image of Che Guevara, as seen in this quote:

    I am not averse to its reproduction by those who wish to propagate his [Guevara’s] memory and the cause of social justice throughout the world,” Korda said in the autumn of 2000.

  • The concept of benign neglect reigns. If someone does not attempt to defend their copyright, even in the face of many highly public uses of it, the right to defend it is hard to manage. Consider how many times you’ve seen the Che Guevara image on posters, t-shirts, etc.
  • The Berne copyright convention is the means for reciprocity between countries and their varying internal copyright laws. Cuba has never signed the Berne convention, because Castro said it was a tool of the capitalists. Korda lived until his death in 2001 in Cuba, and was a proud Cuban citizen.
  • The image I used was not the photograph of Che that Korda took, but a stylized rendering of that image. It is a unique work. To claim that any image of Guevara infringes on Korda’s copyright implies that Guevara’s likeness is ownable and, further, that it is owned by the estate of Señor Korda.

Of course, none of this matters, because the store has been removed and it never made money anyway. Just another example of lawyers bullying people into doing things that aren’t right, merely expedient.

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 26 Jun 2006 @ 07:39 PM

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