Wednesday, March 23, 2005
On this day:

B'ham Post-Herald on UA vs. Daniel Moore

According to the B'ham Post-Herald, Moore is getting support from fellow sports artists who have also been sued for their work:

Rick Rush and Alan Zuniga, two artists who've had lawsuits filed against their own sports art, both voiced support for Moore's right to artistic expression.

"The bottom line is this is about freedom of speech and artistic expression," said Rush, of Tuscaloosa.

Rush was sued by Tiger Woods' licensing firm for a painting of the golfer's victory at the Master's Golf Tournament in 1997. The case alleged the use of Woods' name and likeness was theft of intellectual property.

A federal appeals court ruled in 2003 that Rush's right to artistic expression was greater than the claims leveled on behalf of Woods...

Birmingham artist Zuniga sees the lawsuit as an First Amendment issue.

"We believe as artists, we can artistically depict sporting events — especially historic sporting events — and we have the First Amendment right to do so," he said. "It's just like someone could publish a book on the history of Alabama football. That would not require licensing."

Zuniga was sued in 1999 for a print called "Victory — At Last." The artwork was a montage of scenes from Tennessee's 1998 victory over Florida. The lawsuit claimed Zuniga did not have permission to use the university's logos.

The artist reached a settlement with the University of Tennessee in 2001. The Associated Press reported that the university would assist the artist with some of his attorney fees and other expenses. Zuniga agreed to become a licensee. He also agreed to abide by NCAA regulations for using names and pictures of athletes in commercial artwork.

Post-Herald sports columnist Ray Melick has also weighed in, saying that by suing Daniel Moore, the University is "going after one of its own."

Never mind that the University of Alabama comes across looking like mighty Goliath trying to squash little David, that it seems more eager to spend more money going after one of its own than it spent in protecting its reputation against the NCAA.

Of course, we all know how Goliath fared against David.

Fortunately for Moore, he could turn out to be the giant in this case. No doubt First Amendment groups from all over the country will line up on his side, as they have in similar cases all over the country. And there is a little thing called the Constitution that, so far, has successfully protected artists such as Moore. Unfortunately for the University of Alabama, the school comes across looking small. This isn't a matter of the university protecting its "good name." This university has successfully used Moore's work for decades to promote that "good name."

I hope that Moore doesn't let the University's hardball tactics intimidate him into settling the case - he will certainly have UA alumni, fans, and the general public on his side, and it sounds like there's a good chance he has the law on his side, as well. No matter how it turns out, though, the administration's perfidy has been revealed for all to see.