The Treachery of Images

Breitbarterdammerung: The Final Reckoning

The Knights Template; or, I Am Compelled to Lawyer Up

Communications theorist Howard Rheingold coined the term “smart mobs” to describe the potential for technology to bring people together in empowering, creative ways to do good in the world. Consider if you will the Twitter Revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt, for instance. Or, closer to home, the Great Justice that resulted when a bunch of nerds noticed that a tacky artistic tribute to dead poopyhead Andrew Breitbart was mostly filched from a promotional image of a downloadable character for the 2010 video game Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood.

Within mere hours of Your Wonkette’s story about the possible copyright infringement, (helped along by a re-embloggening by gaming site Kotaku), the image had vanished from the Patriot Depot website, which had been taking orders for versions ranging from $9.95 for a set of postcards to $3999.95 for a signed, framed print on canvas. And by the end of the weekend, the artist responsible for the Breit Knight image, David Bugnon, had issued an apology on his website:

Regarding the Andrew Breitbart picture

I started it on the day he died. I thought Andrew was a warrior for the truth and I was very sad to hear of his passing. I was inspired to do a photo “chop” tribute for Andrew. Photo “chopping” is an artform, it’s what I do. I never intended to market the picture and did not want to refer to it as a painting (it’s a photo manipulation in combination with illustration and rendering), and I never put a price tag on it, I was just going to post it on Freaking News for a Photoshop contest. My main error in judgement was signing a release for it to be sold, (50% of the proceeds were to go to the Breitbart children’s fund). I sincerely regret my decision and apologize to everyone involved, those that pre-ordered, and those offended by the use of a portion of the copyrighted image.

Fair enough, although we think “doubled over in disbelieving laughter at such clueless ballsiness” describes our reaction more accurately than “offended.” Bugnon explains that accusations of mere cutting-and-pasting are just totally unfair, come on, REALLY you guys are so mean:

I did not just plop Andrews head on the knight image, I worked on it for months in my spare time, re-creating every belt, rivet, cloth item, leather armor and did much cleanup and rendering to the metal armor. It was totally re-worked. I kept the pose and look of the knight image, because I liked it and tried to mimic it. Also, every hair and whisker on the head was re-created, the skin and eyes too. I’ve learned an important lesson and will be very prudent in selecting my source images in the future.

Let us be clear: there was no plopping. Of this apologia, Wonkette commenter Chet Kincaid says, “That is one of the saddest, most pathetic things I have ever read on the Internet.”

Also noteworthy is the craftsman’s doting devotion to his brainchild — sure, he kept the “pose and look” of the source image (and the curlicues, and the pleats, indeed ALL the basic elements of the design), but he added a bitchen dragon on the chest, and made a cool new sword, and fancy (backward, girly) belt buckles, and turned the sash into patriotic flag-patterned bunting, and he’s lived with it so long that it’s his, really, isn’t it, kinda? And who knows, maybe it actually is — when such questions of “Fair Use” get as far as an infringement lawsuit, one of the elements courts look at is the degree to which the new work is “transformative” of the original. One suggestive example that Mr. Bugnon may wish to read up on involves an image that, as a conservative, he may already be familiar with. To help readers appreciate the fine details in the image, Mr. Bugnon will, “for a few more days,” host an impressively large version on his website.

Finally, corrections and acknowledgements: Our original story mistakenly cited the awesome Mock, Paper, Scissors as the first to identify the similarity between Heavenly Breitbart and the Assassin’s Creed knight. As it turns out, that comment was posted by DC Martin, proprietress of the equally awesome Pass The Doucheys On the Right-Hand Side, after one of emi>her commenters, “thebewilderness,” actually found what we’re pretty damn sure was the real “FIRST!”, a comment by “greylocks” at yet another awesome progressive blog, Lawyers, Guns, and Money. Lastly, a shout-out to TBogg at Firedoglake, who had the most awesomest re-photoshoop Breitbart contest on the web.

The takeaway: Don’t copy shit from videogames. Gamer geeks are out there. They can’t be bargained with; they can’t be reasoned with. They don’t feel pity, or remorse, or fear (that’s the Asperger’s). And they absolutely will not stop, EVER, until you are RIDICULED ON A BLOG.

Related

About the author

Doktor Zoom lives in Boise, Idaho. He acquired his pseudonym after being differently punctual to too many meetings. He is not a medical doctor, although he has a real PhD (in Rhetoric and Composition).

View all articles by Doktor Zoom

Hola wonkerados.

To improve site performance, we did a thing. It could be up to three minutes before your comment appears. DON'T KEEP RETRYING, OKAY?

Also, if you are a new commenter, your comment may never appear. This is probably because we hate you.

211 comments

    1. actor212

      What's the funniest bit of this is the dude wasn't even the dude making the money off it. Boy, if only there was some authority one could appeal to….a government, if you will, with a body of laws and the authority to enforce them…to prevent this kind of tragedy of two private capitalists trying to scam other people.

      1. Serolf_Divad

        And what's the saddest bit is where he describes how long it actually took him to plagiarize someone else's work.

        1. actor212

          Well, if you take away the Breitbart head, it's actually not a bad copy of the character. Somehow I get the feeling he really DID plop Breitbart's head on it as an "Aw, fuck, that contest is TOMORROW!" move

      2. MittBorg

        That's not entirely correct, is it? Half the money would go to the Breitbart children, but where would the other half go? Since PatriotAssholesDepot is only peddling the "art," they're limited to a percentage of the proceeds, and that's usually around 10%. I suspect the other 40% was going to the "artist."

      1. Serolf_Divad

        was going to suggest that "intellectual fraud" might be a counter-example, but then I realized he wasn't even that. Unlike, oh, say Jonah Goldberg, Breitbart never pretended to be anything but a fraud. No adjectives needed.

  1. Barb

    "I was inspired to do a photo “chop” tribute for Andrew."

    You should have gone with a pork chop tribute instead.

    1. UnholyMoses

      I was thinking more along the lines of "chopping up a line of blow" but yours is better.

  2. BaldarTFlagass

    "Photo “chopping” is an artform, it’s what I do."

    Kinda like audio sampling? Better check with Vanilla Ice and MC Hammer on how that works.

    1. Tundra Grifter

      As the late, great, James Brown said, "You take the paint off my house it's still the paint off my house."

      Like that there. Also.

  3. Chick-Fil-Atheist™

    YEAH! And someone dig up Andy Warhol. The Campbell's company is still pissed.

    1. JustPixelz

      Not exactly. Aptly enough, I am copying this from elsewhere on the intertubes:

      Andy Warhol did not originally seek permission from Campbell Soup Company to paint their soup cans. He apparently did not run into problems with the company who saw his usage as amusing and the freedom of expression.

      It was only after Warhol's death, when the Andy Warhol Foundation began making licensing agreements with various manufacturers to use Warhol's imagery on products, that there was an official legal agreement between the Andy Warhol Foundation and Campbell Soup Company. Presently, both parties own a stake in the copyright and neither party can make licensing agreements without the other party's permission. Happily, we have a good relationship with them and are involved in various licensing deals with them covering a wide range of products.

      http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=124706

  4. Chick-Fil-Atheist™

    I really want to know how many of those atrocities he sold, what their names are, and where they live. Mr Bugnon's theft be damned… because the buyers are who frighten me the most.

    1. freakishlywrong

      They were bought in bulk to be given away for the next wingtard "book" that comes out.

    2. YasserArraFeck

      On the upside, any cash they squander on bulllshit like this for their mancaves or for above their macmansion great room fireplaces is cash that they don't have to contribute to whatever 'tard campaign they would otherwise support.

      Useless 'tard totems suck up 'tard assets

      1. Chick-Fil-Atheist™

        Thanks to Pawn Stars, I now realize that there's a sense of ethics in collectibles… or at least there is at Rick Harrison's shop in Vegas.

        Speaking of which, "The Old Man" now has his own coin.

        1. actor212

          I saw that episode: Rick bought a 70 pound bar of silver, and had it melted and pressed into coins.

          Me, I'm waiting for the Old Man to turn blue from the silver his body absorbs on a daily basis

      2. tessiee

        *light bulb levitates over head, indicating idea*
        Step 1: Draw a bunch of feebly competent pictures [alternative: rescue feebly competent pictures from High School art class from parents' basement]
        Step 2: Get some kind of law passed against them, thereby making them collectible items with scarcity value.
        Step 3: Profit!!

    1. Ruhe

      What they can expect is to have their "painting" expertly "completed" by a master painter trained by the late Thomas Kincaid for just another $500.

      1. tessiee

        *raises hand hesitantly*
        Um, I don't think "master painter" is exactly how that's pronounced.

  5. Billmatic

    You know call me crazy but I think Breitbart's family isn't hurting too bad considering the ad revenue from his dumb site.

    1. MittBorg

      His wife is Orson Bean's daughter, and has some money of her own and expectations from her father. His parents were wealthy and left him a sizeable fortune when they died. He couldn't *possibly* have spent it all before dying, even with four kids, hookers, and blow. And yes, at his level of wealth, he probably left it all properly set up so that his money keeps making money, even though he's dead. And there's a begathon-fund set up for his kids. So, yeah. They're not hurting anywhere NEAR as bad as the average American family today.

  6. el_donaldo

    I don't know what's sadder, that Bunion is trying to defend this, or that his defense is that he worked really hard at reworking it – all that effort and the scale and perspective are still that fucked?

    1. actor212

      Well, I mean, here's the thing: art students, as an example, are encouraged to go out and copy paintings they like as exercises for class or their own edification. Now, I can see where, you know, if you're just trying to put together an image you rather like, you'd sit and study a still of the character and try to duplicate it and then improve it as you see fit.

      And that's a fair use of an image. The second you use it for anything beyond your own personal enjoyment, you're infringing on a copyright unless you have permission (which is what this douchebag should have asked for). So passing it amongst friends by email, say, is OK, but posting it to a contest? Um, no. He might not be paid, but it does promote his work and leaves the impression that he was the original artist.

      As for the scaling and perspective, well, yea, but that's why you copy paintings: to see if you can become better at things like that.

    2. YasserArraFeck

      This sort of work goes really slow when you're working on the old Commodore 64 you found while setting up your bedroom in your Mom's basement.

  7. CrunchyKnee

    Aint nothing more frightening than the collective forces of 4Chan and Reddit bringing forth their burly brand of Cheeto dusted keyboard justice. Cower, bitches!

    1. CommieLibunatic

      Do not offer them riches, they care not for your coin. Do not offer them surrender, they care not for victory. Offer them nothing, for they come only to murderlulz.
      — On the Dark Eldar, Warhammer 40,000 Anonymous

  8. Jus_Wonderin

    He might as well have said "I am a damn good abstract impressionist watercolor artist."

        1. Butch_Wagstaff

          Or until you hear one of the them mutter under their breath: "Oh god, it's her…"

  9. Goonemeritus

    “Also noteworthy is the craftsman’s doting devotion to his brainchild — sure, he kept the “pose and look” of the source image”

    Are you trying to make a case that diamond incrusting a turd takes no skill? Lets give the guy some credit he started by stealing video game”art” and a picture of Andrew and tried to make this unholy union something sellable. And the best part was his goal he was defrauding Conservatives to fund orphans.

    1. actor212

      Y'know, put like that, I almost want to go out and buy one.

      "Almost" in this case, to be construed as the increment in nearness between me in NYC and the Grand Canyon, and me being in Sheboygan, WI and the Grand Canyon.

  10. edgydrifter

    And at no point in his months of work did he ever step back and say "gosh, this looks like a misshapen lump of shit." That's the difference between craftsmanship and hackery.

    1. MittBorg

      That's what I was wondering about. We've all tried (even if only in art class in school) to create something with our hands, whether it's a sketch in charcoal or a model in clay. Unless you're stupid and delusional, at some point you look at your work and perform an honest assessment. Most of us go, OK, I could work on this for the rest of my life, but it's never going to be Great Art, and at that point, we throw in the sketchbook.

      How delusional do you have to be NOT to recognize that you are not a talented artist? Because this guy is pretty fucking delusional here.

    1. Tundra Grifter

      All right wing nutz use Comic Sans – nothing they write or say is the least bit funny.

  11. Tundra Grifter

    Props to CK!

    Meanwhile, the saddest part of this entire debacle is that the joker spent months on it.

    Months!

    I still like the Foghorn Leghorn better…

    1. fitley

      I have a used copy of Real World Adobe Illustrator that I'd be willing to sell Bugnon. He might be able to pick up his masterpiece creating speed from months to minutes.

    2. tessiee

      "I still like the Foghorn Leghorn better… "

      What, Ah say, what in tarnation is that-there mess supposed to be?
      [pay attention when I'm talkin' to ya, boy!]
      Why, I've seen a cow-plop in a feedlot that looks better than them globs'a'paint!
      *gesturing with thumb*
      [The boy ain't got no talent, is what I'm sayin']

      1. Tundra Grifter

        WIN !1!

        Ah say – Boy's Momma wasn't a chicken. Musta been a cookoo.

        That egg was a bit cracked. So's he…

  12. Terry

    "I did not just plop Andrews head on the knight image, I worked on it for months in my spare time, re-creating every belt, rivet, cloth item, leather armor and did much cleanup and rendering to the metal armor. It was totally re-worked. "

    Dude, if you worked so hard on it, why didn't you just create an image yourself from scratch? It would have taken less time. Oh, wait. Right. You're a Breitbarter, and thus best at copying and pasting in all it's forms.

      1. Jus_Wonderin

        I know. I am glad I can touch type because without my doggie head…I can't see the screen.

        1. emmelemm

          Damn.

          Long time ago, I read "War Without Mercy: Race & Power in the Pacific War" by John W. Dower. It was pretty interesting.

          1. Doktor Zoom

            Dower just plain rocks–Embracing Defeat is quite simply one of the best books I've read. And while it's far more sprawling, Cultures of War: Pearl Harbor, Hiroshima, 9-11, Iraq is a hell of a good read.

  13. elviouslyqueer

    I’ve learned an important lesson and will be very prudent in selecting my source images in the future.

    May I suggest a stock image of a steaming pile of shit? No fuss, no muss!

  14. Shypixel

    To clean up any confusion about the apology, I am providing a translation:

    "I am sad that I got caught."

  15. Opportunisticly_Joe

    Gamer geeks are out there. They can’t be bargained with; they can’t be reasoned with. They don’t feel pity, or remorse, or fear (that’s the Asperger’s).

    ::blushes::

  16. fitley

    Photochopping as opposed to Photoshopping? An artform? Really. I just thought Photochopping was how a Latino would pronounce Photoshopping. In which case it would be Photochopping mang.

    1. Guppy

      Mentioning Adobe's trademarked product name would be one IP violation too many.

      (And may bring attention to whether or not he's using a properly licensed software product.)

    2. Doktor Zoom

      It's like Art Spiegelman trying to get people to use the word "commix" to denote Serious Graphic Littachur.

  17. prommie

    What gets me is what was the purpose of the fucking horror in the first place? I mean like, damn, I know that many of you have blown up my avatar image and hung it on your walls above that little make-shift altar, and thats alright, there is nothing wrong with that, but what was the purpose of this Breitbart image? It was to fap to, right? I mean, can it have any other purpose, other than fap-fodder for this cult of fantasizing uber-patriot closet cases?

      1. prommie

        Well like I said, thats understandable and normal, its completely different from this Breitbart thing.

          1. Jus_Wonderin

            I must call my Scentsy representative. Though, at Fiesta they do sell those Madonna and Child candles.

    1. tessiee

      "what was the purpose of the fucking horror in the first place?"

      Because all the real pictures of Breitfart look like some sweaty, red-faced drunk at best, and some crazy homeless guy at worst — and while conservaturds are masters of self-deception and other-deception, even *they* can't look at an *actual* picture and think, "Now there's a good man, a noble person who I admire".

  18. ManchuCandidate

    This is a fitting legacy for Sir Spittle of Spite. It is the Wingtarded equivalent of letting the coffin hit the ground causing it to break open and letting the body fall into the grave head first.

  19. BaldarTFlagass

    So Dok Zoom got his own byline and no longer goes by Wonkette Jr. There's room to move here at Wonkette!!

    1. BaldarTFlagass

      Please do not use the words "mounting" and "Palin" in the same comment ever again. Thank you.

    1. SexySmurf

      That looks nothing like O'Queef. Where's the jar of (unused, expired) condoms and the adult acne?

    2. Katydid

      What is with this guy and his worship of wingtard men? Penis envy? 'Cause Breitbart and O'Keefe were/are two of the biggest dicks around.

    3. tessiee

      I don't claim to have exhaustive knowledge of detective story fiction, but I'm pretty sure Sherlock Holmes' claim to fame wasn't making up fake evidence.

  20. Jus_Wonderin

    As a software developer I must say…yes, we never give up. Steal some of our shit and we will make sure you eat it.

    Oh, I stole a lot of shit to do my George W. Bush photochopping. But, that is a different matter, right?

  21. James Michael Curley

    Hey Bugnon (known by many connoisseurs as the tastiest part of an insect) if you admit "I shot the Sheriff" you have an enormous burden of proof that you "didn't shoot no deputy."

    1. SenileAgitation

      I admit, i really like that pic with Joe in clown get up and obamer smoking. Badassery. But he should have spent a few more months on Bam's hair.

  22. Blueb4sunrise

    Okay Fancy Schmancy Doktor, if you know so much, WHERE"S ALL THOSE PEOPLE"S AVATARS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  23. Nesnora

    Fuck his reasoning "well, I did this for charity so give me a break". I'm an illustrator and this is the exact reason why you would MAKE SURE you get permission to make a derivative work if something meaningful to you is at stake. Just because you spend a shitload of time doing something illegal doesn't make it justified. If he actually cared, he'd have taken the time to do it right.

  24. carlgt1

    50% of the proceeds were to go to Breit's children? So these poor kids are just starving little urchins? I mean daddy being one of the top Repug sellouts wasn't making enough dough?

  25. SayItWithWookies

    Mr. Bugnon states that he's very sorry and released the following apology:

    For over 20 years, I have illustrated the absurd with absurdity, three hours a day, five days a week. In this instance, I chose the wrong words in my analogy of the situation. I did not mean a personal attack on Ms. Fluke. My choice of words was not the best, and in the attempt to be humorous, I created a national stir. I sincerely apologize to Ms. Fluke for the insulting word choices.

  26. Guppy

    You know, now that I look at the "impressively large version," that's not hair on Breitbart's head, but ramen noodles.

  27. JustPixelz

    Photo “chopping” is an artform…

    Just like scrapbooking. Or sewing patches on a denim jacket. Or decorating your car with stickers. Artforms all.

    1. extreme_left

      Fridge magnet placement is an under recognised art form as well… as is art brut nail polishing.

  28. didgen

    Hell's museum, now the endless showing of Breitbart and Kincaid. No wait that's just an art store in Phoenix.

  29. Guppy

    (50% of the proceeds were to go to the Breitbart children’s fund)

    Are the free markets not good enough for Breitbart's own children?

  30. Generation[redacted]

    I'm glad 50% of the proceeds will be going to The Breitbart Children's Fund, to pay restitution to all those he molested. I hope Intern Riley can finally have some closure.

  31. ThundercatHo

    When does Bunghole get one of those federal art grants? Perhaps he could "photochop" a mural of rMoney as a human being. Very nice job all around Doktor Zoom and other contributing Wonks.

  32. Generation[redacted]

    The more important question is, did anyone plop down $4,999 to pre-order the bad photoshop job on canvas? (guarnateed to last 150 years so your great-grandchildren can also laugh at you)

  33. qwerty42

    So with all the careful attention to detail, he didn't correct the obvious problem he had with the arms? He focused on the armor and the sword and the buckles and all, but not the arms? He's – what, a 16 yo boy?

    1. Biel_ze_Bubba

      The arms are fine, because the Assassin's Creed artist was in fact an artist. Doubling the volume of the head (because you're too lazy to 'shop out the plume on the helmet) is the problem. It also shows Bugnon's profound lack of talent.

      1. qwerty42

        Well, yes, but the kid puts this massive head on, and then spends his time on the sword, and armor, and making sure there is proper homage to Isildur or Albert of Brandenburg or whomever. And never does anything about the distortion the head has done on the arms.

  34. Callyson

    I started it on the day he died…I did not just plop Andrews head on the knight image, I worked on it for months in my spare time

    Self contradictory much?

  35. Slim_Pickins

    "Warrior of Truth"? Does public education produce masses of delusional paranoids or that an outcome of home schooling (any oxymoron if there ever was one)?

  36. tessiee

    Hey!
    I finally figured out what that armor reminds me of: Lobster!
    Seriously, doesn't that cheap, fucked-up arm look like a lobster tail?
    I could go for some lobster right now.
    $: – 9

  37. tessiee

    "Communications theorist Howard Rheingold coined the term “smart mobs” to describe the potential for technology to bring people together in empowering, creative ways"

    However, if you are a puffy, booze-ridden, middle-aged slob with a bad mullet, what you probably have is smart *moobs*, and you should wear fake armor so they're less obvious.

      1. tessiee

        ^^
        ^
        I just happen to have some top quality diamonds in the trunk of my car.
        Now, I *was* gonna sell them to Tiffany's, so that Noot could buy them with taxpayer money…
        But because I really like you guys, I'll give you an extra super special good deal on them.

  38. anniegetyerfun

    The fact that I do not have the skills to retouch things in Photoshop does not make this any less laughable.

  39. Antispandex

    Set of post cards, 9.95$. Tacky signed print, 3999.95$. Admitting, "I did not just plop Andrews head on the knight image, I worked on it for months in my spare time…", PRICELESS!

  40. randcoolcatdaddy

    Well, this is good news for that tribute portrait of John McCain I'm working on that mashes him up with Resident Evil.

  41. tessiee

    "proceeds were to go to the Breitbart children’s fund"

    OK, *surely* he means a fund for the persecuted and marginalized children of wealthy white Christians…
    *Surely* this albino slug had no children of his own, and was, in fact, incapable of reproduction…
    Even knowing next to nothing about Breitbart, look at his picture (if you can make yourself);
    *cues song, "Have you Heard About the Lonesome Loser?"*
    if there was *ever* a middle-aged loser guy who went straight home after work, ate chinese food (not even good chinese food; the crap from Panda Express that's so greasy it makes the carton transparent) out of the take-out carton while watching reruns in stained underwear, and then did the exact same thing the next day, and the day after that, and the day after that… Not only was he single and childless, he didn't have any friends of either sex, and his co-workers could barely stand him.

    1. MittBorg

      He's married to the daughter of Orson Bean, nutbag extraordinaire, and has four children with her. Er, was. Had.

      I pity those children. They haven't a *prayer* of being normal.

        1. MittBorg

          That he's popped his clogs, you mean? But their only living grandparent is a nutbag, and their mother's fairly certainly a nutbag. Dare one hope that Teh Nutbaggitude strikes only X times per family and has worn out its limits?

  42. Tundra Grifter

    That's not Art!

    He isn't holding a burning copy of the Constitution!

    (Yes, I do think I used this before – couldn't resist.)

  43. owhatever

    I cannot snark this. It snarks itself to the max, from the first pencil sketch he didn't make to the non-apology. Not an artist, but a thief an a liar and a crook.

  44. ttommyunger

    I'm always amazed at the sheer volume of words required for a Rightard to say: "Shit, I got caught!"

  45. keinsignal

    Seeing these side by side makes me want to think of them as a before and after – Breitbart all removing his bloated albino head and revealing the empty metal canister inside…

  46. gurukalehuru

    I did not just plop Andrews head on the knight image, I worked on it for months in my spare time, re-creating every belt, rivet, cloth item, leather armor and did much cleanup and rendering to the metal armor

    Gay.

  47. extreme_left

    The 'apology' now moves this 'piece' into the realm of 'Art'. Surrealist multi-media comes to mind.

  48. Doktor Zoom

    Worth noting: A pretty good parody of this travesty. Strangely enough, Mike Flugennock, the artist, appears not to have used any photo-manipulation software at all in producing it.

  49. Biel_ze_Bubba

    OK, I'm totally stealing this from another poster on another board, but damned if I can find it to give credit:

    "Those aren't clouds – his pants are on fire."

  50. Biel_ze_Bubba

    Perhaps he originally had someone else's noggin in mind, before BriteFart's death presented a better commercial prospect.

Comments are closed.