Lawsuit Waiting To Happen: Zappos Steals from Artist Erica Simone

Posted by The G on July 29, 2011 under GNN | 15 Comments to Read

Photos by Erica Simone and Zappos (respectively).

Photo of Erica Simone from the exhibit "Nue York: Portrait of a Bare Urban Citizen"

Does anyone fact check anymore?!  The above photo is of Erica Simone from her exhibit “Nue York: Portrait of a Bare Urban Citizen,” which showed in New York in April 2011.  Erica Simone photographed herself in various scenarios that New Yorkers find themselves in on a daily basis, but she added a unique twist – she appeared completely naked in the pictures.  The idea was genius and it’s not a surprise that the exhibit received international media coverage and the photos made a huge splash in the art world.

The idea was so brilliant in fact, that Zappos, the online shoe and apparel shop, decided to blatantly rip off the image and concept for a new ad campaign.  One of the photos is included below.

July 2011 Zappos Ad

I am not a lawyer, but I smell a lawsuit.

What are your thoughts?  To me, this seems like a no-brainer.  Spread the word and boycott Zappos until they right the wrong.  Earlier this year, Urban Outfitters stole a logo from street artist Cali Killa and decided to sell that image on T-shirts and within 48 hours of my readers spreading the word, Urban Outfitters removed the product from their stores and website.

Unfortunately, I have to call on you for your help again, but we cannot let Zappos get away with this!!!  Let’s all contact Zappos CEO Tony Hseih, post this on our favorite social media sites and tweet this link directly to @zappos to express our discontent!  We will be victorious!!!

 

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  • Frank said,

    Wow! These fucking corporations are unbelievable! How dare they try and get away with this?!

  • Bob Roberts said,

    Down with Zappos!!!

    I hope you get a shit load of money Ms. Simone.

  • kail said,

    If they had used the images she had taken you would have a point, but this is more like how every pop song uses the same 4 cords.

  • cappidad said,

    What?? You copyright the original photo? Or you copyright the idea of running nude? How about copyrighting the idea of walking outside to pick up the newspaper, or walking your dog, or……?

  • The G said,

    @kail – the photos look like more than “just the same 4 chords” as you put it.

    @cappidad – did you read the article? it sure doesn’t sound like it.

  • rdoyle said,

    The suggestion that Zappos even knew about Ms. Simone’s exhibit is ridiculous. Nude outdoor photography is as old as the world’s first camera.

    There are similarities in art and advertising and hollywood and whatnot all the time.

  • DownWithTheMan said,

    Sounds like Zappos’ stooges are trying to backpedal. I hope Erica sues and Zappos loses! That’ll show these people once and for all.

  • Tony Hsieh said,

    This Zappos video came out well before 2011:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R3uuw4Q_KP8

    Although the headline of this blog post says “Zappos Steals from Artist”, the truth is we have not actually invented a time machine (yet).

  • Tony Hsieh said,

    Here’s the original Zappos video uploaded in 2007 (with different music):

  • Erica said,

    I obviously didn’t invent the idea of running around naked!! I never made this boastful claim nor would ever imagine for that to sound the least bit rational. What I notice here, however, is a very strong resemblance between my photographs and Zappos’. Whether or not they have been using nudity in their campaigns since 2007; the real question is: If there’s an infinite way to shoot naked people, why are these images so similar to mine? They could at least pull the jogging shot from the campaign—that one is pretty traced. The Blue Fly ads use nudity too, so do plenty of advertisers, and artists… but theirs at least look different and unique! The particular style of work is what I’m getting at, not just the nudity factor, obviously.

  • LargeRoomNoLight said,

    I agree with Erica. All art, in most cases, is a reinvention of the wheel but there are many visual faces of the wheel. Some big, some small. Some with spokes some with hub caps. They are all derivatives of the first inception but If your wheel has stripes and someone many years later comes out with a wheel with pink polka dots you can’t come out around that same time with a wheel with peach polka dots and pretend the later did not inspire you. There is no integrity in that. A man is nothing without integrity. Don’t make literal inspired pieces and use the fact that similar things have already been done as your excuse. This is one of those cases where it’s just too soon Tony. Man up!

    ~LRNL

  • The Other Kid said,

    Nice work with the youtube video. Very believable! Still, the issue at hand is the fact that your image is nearly identical to the artist’s photo.

  • Mike said,

    I work for an ad agency and we came up with this same idea for a completely un-related product without having any reference to Erica Simone.

    Unfortunately/Fortunately for us Zappos’ campaign launched days before we were ready to launch ours.

    Everything has been done and everything will be done again for an advertisement. Get over it. Ideas are recirculated and very few people have original ideas. I’m sure Erica Simone drew inspiration from another project. Being naked with black censor bars is not original.

  • Jonny said,

    These comments are so funny. It’s interesting to note that so many people have acknowledged the photo is similiar without actually saying “the photo is similar, but unintentional.”

    Just SAY IT.

    But no, folks have to live in denial. This is absolutely one of the reasons why the world as we know it is about to crash and burn!

  • Erica Simone said,

    I obviously didn’t invent the idea of running around naked! I never made this boastful claim nor would ever imagine for that to sound the least bit rational. What I notice here, however, is a very strong resemblance between my photographs and Zappos’. Whether or not they have been using nudity in their campaigns since 2007; the real question is: If there’s an infinite way to shoot naked people, why are these images so similar to mine? They could at least pull the jogging shot from the campaign—that one is pretty traced. The Blue Fly ads use nudity too, so do and have plenty of advertisers, and artists… but theirs at least look different and unique! The particular style of work is what I’m getting at, not just the nudity factor. I’m not claiming ownership of a concept, but an implementation…

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