Afternoon, Spider Rock © Robert Sommers 2023

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Rick Griffin Rip Off

I was looking deep in cyberspace for a particular Rick Griffin image yesterday when I came upon this web site. K-Type, a company that sells fonts, is marketing a font based on the work of my late friend, the iconic psychedelic artist, Rick Griffin.

I had never seen the site before, and wrote Denis, a maven of all things Griffin. He said that the thing had been around for close to a decade and would ask Carl, a Griffin scholar who has focussed on his lettering, for more information about the deal.

I wrote Ida, Rick's widow, and she had never seen the site before and was going to fire off a letter to the company.

I am not a copy write attorney but it seems to me a gross violation to not only market a lettering style like this that is such a patent rip off of an artist, name it after said artist and then neither license or pay the estate. California has very strong laws about the rights of an artist's estate, I believe they exist for 75 years after his or her passing. Somebody is clearly making money on someone else's name here, and the quality ain't so hot either. £180 (GBP) for an enterprise license is not cheap. How many have they sold? It is apparently one of the top ten fonts that they sell, according to the website. Kind of ironic to sell a license for something that you do not own a license for.

I would hire a good lawyer, audit their books, and demand a big fat check for this incredible ripoff. Utter hubris and disregard. It is one thing to copy an artist's work, another matter entirely to use their name to sell your own shoddy copy.


grumpy said...

unconscionable. i hope a big payday for Ida comes out of this.

Anonymous said...

...It has been around quite awhile. I thought that since they were using his name that they must have had a deal with Ida. Typefaces cannot be copyright protected. The simplified version of type piracy, the way I understand it, is that anybody can take an existing typeface and redraw it (even exactly) and rename it, and there's nothing legal to be done about it. You can copyright the name but not the face. Crazy, huh? This has been going on since long before digital type. So there may not be anything to stop anyone from putting out a typeface based on Rick's letters, but I would think they'd have some action on them using his name all this time AND selling it based on advertising that it's his letters.