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For the Love of God

Damien Hirst: For the Love of God

Damien Hirst is in trouble with some angry artists, including Tracey Emin’s ex Billy Childish, after he threatened to sue a 16-year-old under copyright laws.

The teenager, who calls himself Cartrain, sold a collage over the internet last year that included an image of Hirst’s diamond encrusted skull, For the Love of God (2007).

Hirst reported the boy to the Design and Artists Copyright Society and made him hand over the £200 profit he made from the sale.

Now Billy Childish and former KLF band member Jimmy Cauty have joined with other artists to publicly object to Hirst’s aggressive protection of his brand.

They too have created a series of works depicting For the Love of God. Cauty wrote to The Independent: “Unlike Cartrain and his gallery we are not intimidated by lawyers and if an injunction is issued, we will simply ignore it on the grounds of free speech.”

While Hirst is well within his rights to (try to) control the use of these images, his actions smack of bullying. It is also ironic that he should threaten to sue someone for appropriating his artwork when he himself has been sued for the very same reason.

Back in 2000, toy company Humbrol said Hirst’s sculpture, Hymn, was a direct copy of its Young Scientist Anatomy Set. Hirst paid an undisclosed sum to two charities – Children Nationwide and the Toy Trust – to settle the dispute.

In fact, an artist of John LeKay claimed in 2007 that the idea to create jewel-encrusted skulls was his, not Hirst’s. If true, that would mean Hirst is fighting to maintain authorship of a work of art that he stole from somebody else in the first place.

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