After he was acquitted in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin last July, George Zimmerman turned to painting in order to pass the time, and make a bit of money. But his latest work might land Zimmerman in more legal trouble — this time, for copyright infringement.
It all started when Zimmerman's brother tweeted this photo of Zimmerman's latest artistic work: a portrait of State Attorney Angela Corey, the prosecutor in Zimmerman's case. (Via Twitter / @rzimmermanjr)
So far, the painting has received mixed reactions. A panel of art critics for Time blasted the piece as "primitive", "paint by number", and "a desperate cry for attention."
But Mediaite notes Zimmerman's art also has a dedicated following. His last piece sold for $100,000 on eBay, and Zimmerman's former attorney called his new piece "cute."
But Rick Wilson, a freelance photographer for The Associated Press, is calling Zimmerman's piece something else: plagiarism.
"The Associated Press and a freelance photographer have sent him a cease and desist letter. Now, the photographer's attorney says Zimmerman ripped off that AP photo on the left to make the portrait on the right." (Via CNN)
"The AP says, in a letter to a former Zimmerman attorney, that if a sale is made they'll be seeking damages." (Via Central Florida News 13)
Wilson took the original photo on April 11, 2012 when Corey first announced she would be pressing charges against Zimmerman. He told the Orlando Sentinel, "[Zimmerman]'s trying to profit and pass off, basically, a photograph as his own original artwork."
Zimmerman apparently isn't too concerned by the cease-and-desist letter. On Twitter, he wrote "No worries AP, I'll just take whatever U sue me for off your tab when I'm done suing you :-)" An AP spokesman said he has no idea what Zimmerman is talking about.
Of course, the AP's been down this road before, and with a much more iconic image.
In 2009 street artist Shepard Fairey got into a legal dispute with the AP over his iconic 2008 "Hope" poster, which was based on an AP portrait of President Obama. The two sides eventually settled out of court, but Fairey was slapped with fines and probation for destroying evidence in the case. (Via PetaPixel)
Zimmerman has yet to announce when or if he intends to sell his latest work, but his brother claims to have received several purchase offers via social media.