Taylor reports that designer Nadia Plesner is getting sued by Louis Vuitton for showing the likeness of a Vuitton bag in a campaign to encourage divestment from Darfur. As a Vuitton lawyer claims in a February cease-and-desist letter, the bag pictured is the Monogram Multicolore, created by Vuitton art director Marc Jacobs and artist Takashi Murakami. "As an artist yourself, we hope that you recognize the need to respect other artists' rights and Louis Vuitton's Intellectual Property rights," the attorney wrote. Plesner, probably aware that artist's like Murakami have the right to appropriate and satirize the work of others, lawyered up and refused. Now, according to TechDirt, Vuitton is "demanding $7,500 for each day she keeps selling the product, $7,500 for each day she displays its original cease-and-desist letter and (my favorite) $7,500 for each day she mentions the name 'Louis Vuitton' on her website."
"Sometimes recognizable objects are needed to express deeper meanings, and in their new form become more than the objects themselves -- they become art," Plesner wrote in her response to Vuitton's initial letter. Indeed, as Sudanese troops and affiliated militias mow down civilians in Darfur -- as many as 300,000 have died there, according to a new estimate -- the culture of consumption in the west, represented aptly by this particular bag (which retails for $1,580 on the company's website), stands in stark contrast.
Plesner, hopefully boosted in her efforts by the suit, says she'll continue with her "Simple Living" series, which both raises awareness of the genocide in Darfur and generates funds -- 30 percent of sales -- to its victims.
Update: Vuitton has collaborated with artist Richard Prince, whose celebrated work includes Marlboro ads he re-photographs, without crediting the original photographer.
Update 03.13.11: Louis Vuitton sues artist Nadia Plesner -- again -- for using handbag image in Darfur art
Update 05.04.11: EU court rules against Louis Vuitton in Nadia Plesner copyright case