We play in the garden – where art meets the corporate world

???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????It is a sunny day.

Jack and Jill go outside to play.*

Mummy is working in the garden.

‘Look at the pretty flowers!’ says Jill. ‘I love flowers!’

‘Look!’ says Jack. ‘A ladybird!’

‘I love ladybirds,’ says Jill.

‘Oh! The ladybird tried to bite me!’ says Jill.

Jill is scared.

‘Ladybirds don’t bite,’ says Jack, ‘unless you make them very angry!’

Jill is very scared.

Jack thinks it is very funny.

Mummy tells Jack that this is not funny.

‘The ladybird is upset,’ says Mummy.

Mummy is worried.

Jill is still scared.

‘Maybe it thinks you are a big ladybird because your dress is red with black spots!’ says Jack.

‘Jack is right. Maybe you should go inside and change your dress?’ says Mummy.

‘But I love this dress,’ says Jill.

Jill doesn’t understand why the ladybird is upset.

She thinks it should be happy that she wants to dress up like a ladybird.

Jill is upset.

‘Why can’t the ladybird change its dress instead?’ asks Jill.

‘Oh, Jill, everyone knows that a ladybird can’t change its spots!’ says Mummy.

Jack and Jill laugh.

Jill goes inside and changes her dress.

Everyone is happy again.

And Jill will be more careful next time she plays in the garden.


About this story

In case you are wondering, my recent post about ladybirds being dangerous (here) explained that Miriam Elia recently published an artwork in the form of a 1960s Ladybird Book and ended up in a dispute over copyright with Penguin Books.

The book is called ‘We go to the gallery’ and features Peter, Jane and Mummy going to an exhibition where they learn about sex, death, religion and modern art. Printing costs were raised via crowdfunding.

The artist has now been told that she can sell enough copies to cover her costs but that’s it. However, she remains hopeful that she will be able to do another print run soon if the law is changed and she alters the design slightly.**

‘Thankfully the UK law is changing in my favour this April, which will allow original works of parody and satire to be protected against this sort of situation.’

Here’s an excerpt from The Guardian on 2 March 2014: ***

‘[Elia] stressed that Penguin has been sympathetic and has been open to negotiation, but ultimately would not back down on what it saw as infringement of its copyright.

“I’ve been talking to them a lot and suggesting ways around the problem. And they do understand. There’s no malice, but it’s harsh because they can destroy the work. I just want it to be appreciated. It was supposed to be an homage to Ladybird – and a bit of a satirical comment on the art world, I suppose.”‘

And an interview with Miriam: ‘Fight of the ladybirds – video‘ (Channel 4. 27 Feb 2014).

Risks to crowdfunding investors?

This case made me wonder about the legal risks for third parties who provide financial support for projects via online crowd source funding.

What is expected of investors in terms of their responsibilities to conduct due diligence checks and what is their potential exposure? Presumably a key question involves to what extent, if any, investors stand to profit (e.g. an equity stake). But how is the grey area between no liability and shared liability addressed?

Does anyone even read the small print to check how donating money in return for some sort of reward (e.g. a signed book) affects their rights? Is the risk limited to losing your money and never receiving the reward? And what if the issue is more serious than a copyright infringement?


* Names have been changed to protect the innocent (me)

** Learning with Miriam website (Accessed 10 March 2014)

*** ‘Artist’s spoof Ladybird book provokes wrath of Penguin‘ by Gareth Rubin. The Guardian (Published 2 March 2014. Accessed 10 March 2014) 

Sad ladybird photo: © Kati1313 | Dreamstime.com (ID 2494880)

Categories: Internet

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4 replies

  1. It looks like a very clever book — love the part about the Jeff Koons piece and “only venture capitalists can play with the balloons” — Sandy, just back from a trip to look at contemporary art

    • Yep – I like that one too. And would love a copy of the book if she does a reprint. Jealous that you can make short trips to places like the Whitney! I won free tickets to a Gold of the Incas exhibition so that’s my next culture fix.


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