Sculptor goes to court over cheetah knockoffsPublished 11:00pm Thursday, November 3, 2011
Rosetta, who created the three cheetahs racing down Depot Drive by the railroad tracks, has been protecting her copyright in court against cheap Chinese knockoffs trafficked on eBay.
“There is no way to get at them in China, but I was able to stop the middleman,” Jan Rosetta said Wednesday from Loveland, Colo.
She recalled her chagrin upon learning such sculptures as “Running Cheetah,” “Seated Cheetah,” “Cougar Bench,” “The Leap,” “Vigilance” and “Panther” were credited to “world-famous” and nonexistent sculptor Milo.
“There are zillions of pieces in different styles attributed to Milo,” Rosetta said.
Dowagiac’s cheetahs were dedicated Sept. 11, 2009.
EBay has a mechanism by which an artist can have an item removed from the site if it infringes on a copyright, but if listers contest the complaint, it can be put back unless evidence of filing court action is demonstrated.
In her case, the seller contested removals and re-listed items under several company names.
Her lawyer had informed him he was selling unauthorized copies, so Rosetta enlisted a copyright specialist in Fort Collins, Col., to file suit in federal court in Denver and to serve him in New York.
They reached an out-of-court settlement with a stipulated injunction filed under which he agrees not to sell or to cause anyone else to sell any more copies.
He coughed up part of her lawyer’s fees and remaining inventory along with information about the Chinese “copy shop,” which reproduces art from Internet photos for him.
Rosetta said analysis of the Chinese bootlegs found them to be “basically brass (copper and zinc with traces of other metals) rather than bronze,” and more susceptible to deterioration.
She said the knockoffs are yellower than the slightly reddish silicon bronze used in the United States, making copies more brittle. Zinc can leach out, leaving metal spongy. They also don’t take patinas well.
“They appear dead compared to the ones we can achieve on our silicon bronze.”
One looked like “mud,” she said.
Rosetta said a collector alerted her after seeing a copy on eBay, but it is a longstanding, recurring problem to which a national sculpture magazine dedicated an entire issue several years ago and panel discussions have been convened.
“It’s a widespread problem,” and not just for artists.
There have also been plants found copying Jeeps.