The New York Times today has an interesting piece in the Arts section on art and appropriation. An old issue of course, but one resonant given the current buzz on using social media to spread one's creative output with no attention to the implications of giving up control. The article highlights some recent high profile examples of artists having their expressive ideas egregiously copied by advertisers. Spencer Tucker, the naked crowd guy, was beautifully ripped off by Vasoline's “Sea of Skin” commercial. Christian Marclay's 1995 "Telephones" was a direct inspiration for the iPhone launch commercial in 2007. Apple approached him for permission, he said no, they did it anyway. Then again, Marclay's work is completely a work of appropriation from old movie scenes.
Ideas cannot be copyrighted, but where does the line lie? Pretty clearly, I would say, in the Richard Prince direct appropriation of a Sam Abell image in the multi-million dollar sale of his Cowboy's work. For a contrary and compelling take, look at Rob Haggart's blog entry.