Apple's little problem with ripping off artists

We can appreciate the fact that Apple seems to draw a lot of inspiration from art -- we really can. But we're noticing a pretty disconcerting trend taking shape: Cupertino's getting all Picasso on us with the "Good artists copy, great artists steal" stuff, time and time again knocking off other artists' and creative companies' work in its own products and advertising. Seems a little odd for the company whose mainstay customer is the creative professional, and whose most enduring ad campaign compels us to Think Different. Let's take a quick look back at some of the lumps Apple's taken for its ads just in 2006 and 2007.

Why, just this weekend we found out Colorado artist Louis Psihoyos filed suit against Apple for allegedly swiping his wall of videos photo after Apple backed out of negotiations to license the imagery to use in the Apple TV intro video and branding.

But Mr. Psihoyos is certainly putting up a much harder fight than artist Christian Marclay gave Apple, with whom he was in negotiations over permission to recreate his 1995 abstract film, Telephones (above), for use in advertising the iPhone. When Marlay declined, Apple just up and used it anyway, running its own totally indistinct version that aired during -- what else? -- the Oscars. Marlay abstained from suing.

But it wasn't only artists' work Apple has ganked. Compare for yourself: Lugz Shoes' Fall 2002 commercial, and Apple's 2006 Eminem / iTunes ad. (We especially like the Lugz / iTunes commercial mashup.) Lugz was highly unimpressed, and sent Apple a cease desist to halt the airing the commercial immediately. Tail firmly between legs, Apple pulled the ad.

And, of course, how can we forget the nearly shot-for-shot remake of The Postal Service's music video for their hit single Such Great Heights? The band was less than impressed by Apple's swipe, but Cupertino insisted it had no prior knowledge of the music video when it contracted the directorial team of Josh Melnick and Xander Charity to whip 'em up a commercial for the Intel transition.

The thing is, at the end of the day we really like the fact that Apple tries to fuse art with technology -- even in these most literal of cases. But let's get square: nobody likes a ripoff artist, and Apple's got to learn its lesson before the company crosses the line from Pablo Picasso to Elmyr de Hory.

P.S. -Anyone else think it's weird none of this is mentioned in Wikipedia's article about Apple's advertising?