Saturday, April 21, 2012


by Leighton Gage

In 2009, when Bouchercon was being held in Indianapolis, a gang of us went out to dinner.

The inimitable Peter Rozovsky ( )
was walking next to me when we entered the restaurant.

This was the mural facing us on the wall:

“Ha!” said I. “Picasso. Les Demoiselles de Avignon.”
“Ha!” said Peter. “Matisse. La Danse.”
Peter, of course, was right.
He usually is.
Les Demoiselles de Avignon is this one:

I knew that.
I really did.
I just…misspoke.
That’s my story anyway.
And I’m sticking to it.

What’s this got to do with plagiarism?
Bear with me.
I’m getting there.

Flash forward to the first hours of New Year’s Day, 2011.
During the celebration on Copacabana Beach the symbol for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games was unveiled:

If you haven’t got time to watch the video (2 minutes and 57 seconds), cut right to the chase and look at this:

And, now, compare it with this:

It’s the logo for the Telluride Foundation,   a Colorado-based organization that exists to promote philanthropy.

See any similarity?
Lots of folks do.

They allege that the Telluride logo was directly lifted from the Matisse.

And take away the legs and the red dancer from the Telluride logo,  and you’ve got the Olympic logo.

Fred Gelli, of T├ítil Design, the Brazilian agency that created the logo, says no. He acknowledges that there are similarities between the two, but is unwilling to go any farther than that.

His detractors say the similarity is just too great, that even the color dispersion is nearly identical.

I asked Peter Ratcliffe, a designer who’s been doing some book covers for me, what he thought. He said yes to inspiration, no to plagiarism.

And thought it was a cool idea that the Brazilians have come up with the first 3-dimensional Olympic Symbol:

And you? What do you think?


Victoria said...

Yeah, I'd say inspiration, not direct copy. There are too many differences to make it even remotely a direct copy.

Harvee said...

Nothing to keep me awake at night. It's word plagiarism that would bother me.

Jaden Terrell said...

I agree with Victoria. It's not similar enough to make me think plagiarism. It seems clearly inspired by the original but enough changes have been made to make it a new piece. Besides, I've known too many writers and artists to come up with eerily similar ideas with no contact at all.