The internet is great for getting the word out there when someone has done something wrong. However, it also makes claims very easy to check up. Sometimes people don’t put two and two together and hypocrisy can become quite evident very quickly. That’s been the case just recently in South Africa. I got a link to this post, where South African designer Euodia Roets calls out Woolworths for the way they stole her design. She gives a lot of details and photo evidence of the similarity between her picture and the one that was then printed on some scatter cushions to sell.
However, it is quite obvious that while the two designs are similar, and neither is particularly original. There are only so many ways one is likely to draw a hummingbird. If you Google “hummingbird” you will see a number of very similar images show up. The first one also happens to look strangely familiar… It turns out that the hummingbird painting Euodia Roets did in 2012 was actually just a copy of a photo taken by R W Scott in 1997. Even more interesting is that although Ms Roets is both selling prints of her painting for $25 and complaining about copyright infringement by Woolworths, the original photo is also copyrighted and not to be used for commercial purposes!
You can see all three images above and it is very clear that Ms Roets’ painting is identical to the photograph, particularly if you look at the tail markings while there is just a basic resemblance to the scatter cushion. Looking at the images, I don’t believe Woolworths stole her painting. The image is too generic. I do, however, think that Euodia Roets violated the copyright on the photo and failed to credit the photographer. In the best case scenario, she just thought it was a free image floating around on the internet. If she was going to use the image for commercial purposes, though, it would’ve been good for her to first find out where it came from.
Woolworths response to the allegations can be read here. I should also say that while Woolworths didn’t steal the picture, they are using the text from the Wikipedia entry on Hummingbirds, allegedly without acknowledgement.
UPDATE: Euodia’s page has since been updated to include an acknowledgement of the photo and the page advertising prints of the hummingbird picture has been removed. The link to the removed page is still in her post. You can see the original post (without acknowledgement) courtesy of the Internet Archive Wayback Machine.
UPDATE 2: Euodia has also removed the comments on her page that pointed out that her picture was a copy of R W Scott’s photograph. There is a Google cache version of the page showing the original comments and when she first misattributed the photo the Gregory Scott. There’s also a Google cache page showing the hummingbird prints being sold for R237. (Thank you to Smelly in the comments for the links.) The story is now on News24 with Woolworths response and mentioning the use of a copyrighted picture.
Update 3: This is quite interesting. Gregory Scott, son of the late R W Scott, has spoken out in favour of Woolworths. He said that both pictures are obviously based on his father’s photograph but Woolworths’ image used more interpretation and less copying.