In an opinion yesterday, Judge Swain dismissed artist Maya Hayuk’s claim that, after she rejected a request from Starbucks for her to create material for a new ad campaign, Starbucks simply copied the “core” of her art for the campaign anyway.  Below is one example of the actual campaign compared to the plaitniff’s art:

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More are here.

Judge Swain found the similarities insufficient for a copyright case:

Plaintiff . . . admits that Defendants have not created “carbon copies” of the Hayuk Works. She contends that they have infringed her copyrights by misappropriating what she characterizes as the “core” of her works.

Plaintiff has not cited precedent for the notion that appropriation of the “core” of a work or set of works—as opposed to a demonstration that an inexact copy is substantially similar to a particular copyrighted work—is a proper basis for a finding of a copyright violation. Nor has she explained how her artistic “core” appropriation concept differs from an assertion that Defendants have copied her style or elements of her ideas, neither of which are protected by copyright law.  Moreover, where “a given idea is inseparably tied to a particular expression” copyright protection to the expression may be denied “in order to avoid conferring a monopoly on the idea to which it inseparably is tied.” Plaintiff’s claims must therefore fail . . . .