The plot thickens regarding the provenance of Zimmerman’s “original painting”

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Good afternoon:

I spent the morning attempting to identify the photographer who produced the stock image of the American flag that George Zimmerman apparently used to produce his “original painting” that he is offering for sale on ebay. I use the word “apparently” because it looks like he downloaded the stock photo from Flickr, photoshopped it by adding the words and changing the dimensions and colors, projected the image onto a canvass and painted the image rather like painting by numbers.

If you have any doubt about how he did it and whether he significantly changed the original, check out this video.

(h/t to Rachael and Dolphinocean for finding this video)

The Getty image

Getty identifies the photographer as Manuela Krause and states that she owns the copyright.

Getty offers her photograph for sale at prices ranging from $15 (280 x 174 px (3.89 x 2.42 in.) – 72 dpi – RGB) to $361 (4972 x 3082 px (16.57 x 10.27 in.) – 300 dpi – RGB).

The image bears Getty’s watermark to prevent people from downloading the it and reselling it as their own work. Upon purchasing the image, the purchaser can download it without the watermark.

The licensed or authorized use of the photograph is “royalty free,” which means that the purchaser can resell the image commercially after purchasing it from the seller.

This does not mean that it goes into the public domain where anyone can use it for any purpose without attribution.

Pursuant to the Berne Convention, Manuela Krause retains the copyright and moral right to be credited as the photographer who created the image. Neither Getty nor anyone who purchases the image from Getty can claim to have created the photograph. Any person or organization who does claim to have created it would violate her copyright. Therefore, Manuela Krause has a potential copyright infringement claim against Zimmerman, assuming she can prove that he copied her image.

EarlG in the DU article said they purchased the right to use the Getty image on tee-shirts more than 10 years ago. This significantly predates any other claim to own the right to sell the photograph.

The Shutterstock Photo

The Shutterstock image bears their watermark, which prevents people from using it or representing it as their own. The image is displayed on the first of four pages displaying 381 images that belong to the Awen Art Studio in Plovdiv, Bulgaria. The Awen Art Studio’s main page at Shutterstock says that it has been a member of Shutterstock since 2009.

No information is displayed indicating when the image was created, by whom or when they acquired it. The studio identifies the image as a stock photo of an American flag, claims they have the copyright, and identifies the image with this identification number: 74692756.

Shutterstock is also selling the right to use the image commercially without having to pay a royalty fee.

I do not know when, where, or under what circumstances the Awen Art Studio acquired the photograph.

The Flickr Photo

Looks like Hoch Sollst Du Leben may not be a real person. His name in German means: High Thou Shalt Live.

Hoch Sollst Du Leben posted his “copyrighted” image in 2006, three years before Awen Art Studio registered at Shutterstock.

The photograph of the flag on Flickr that I linked to in my article yesterday leads to a 404-page-not-found message.

(h/t to Donna at my site who tipped me off to this development)

Removing the site, instead of calling a press conference and expressing indignant outrage, suggests that de Leben may not be on the up and up. I doubt he created the image, but cannot prove where or how he obtained it. He may have sold the image on a royalty free basis to any number of people or organizations, including the Awen Art Studio, but neither he nor any subsequent purchaser can legitimately claim to own the copyright, which remains with Manuela Krause.

Anyone, including George Zimmerman, could have downloaded the image for free from Flickr because the image was not protected by a watermark.


Since the image was protected by a watermark at Getty and Shutterstock, I doubt Zimmerman obtained it from either source, unless he paid for it.

I regard that as a theoretical but improbable possibility.

I suspect, but lack sufficient evidence to prove that GZ obtained the image for free by copying it from Flickr. I cannot eliminate the possibility that he projected a watermarked image onto a canvas and painted over the watermark, but regard that possibility as unlikely.

I believe EarlG at Democratic Underground has demonstrated the process that George Zimmerman used to create his “original painting.”

I also believe that he fraudulently misrepresented that he created it. A person cannot take another person’s work, tweak it a bit, and legitimately claim that they created it. In order to legitimately claim they created the work, they would have to change it in some significant manner. I do not believe the process that EarlG described meets that standard.

Finally, we cannot forget that the value of his “original painting” is based on his claim that he created it. If John Smith were offering it for sale at an ebay auction, I doubt it would sell for more than $20.

As I’ve said all along, I believe Zimmerman’s effort to sell his “original painting” is an attempt to commit criminal fraud and not protected by the fair-use exception to copyright law.

Definitive conclusions require further investigation.


This is our 807th post in a little over two years. If everyone who has not contributed a donation, were to donate $5, we could end this fund drive today.


102 Responses to The plot thickens regarding the provenance of Zimmerman’s “original painting”

  1. J4TMinATL says:

    This whole twitter account of his is creepy as hell. Unreal. Takes photo of FL license plate of photographer and posts it on twitter. Someone has tweeted at him blaming Prof as the one who started all the hate. He responded to it asking “who’s that?”

    Is this real? I’m in a fupping dream. SMH.

  2. Lynn says:

    On the previous thread bigboi gave us this link while only one commented on it. It’s GZ’s website that was taken down. It shows the flag that I believe he used. He was even marking his ‘original’ territory then He claims…”Content copyright 2013. . All rights reserved.”

  3. Theme music, for this murderabilia auction:

  4. Brandy says:

    TMZ has a video of Georgie and Samantha leaving courthouse. I guess their inquiring about getting their guns back. What makes me ill in this video is the way the paps are treating them like they are celebrities! Wow! Only in America. Oh and georgie acts like they are bothering him when we know he is LOVING IT! He also goes to open the door for his Partner in Crime . What a sociopathic, manipulative, lying Gentleman LOL, Georgies really knows how to put on a performance. He has had a lot of practice

    • Malisha says:

      That’s all he ever has done with his life was put on performances. And not one of those performances was ever ready for prime time. That’s the secret of the nobody in a racist society; he can be “somebody” in relation to the despised class so he imagines he’s a somebody and it goes to his head.

      Basically, a racist has delusions of adequacy. Fogen is a perfect example. The female by his side plays that same game with him for the contact high SHE gets from it.

  5. Actually, this whole auction appears to be totally bizarre. There are 96 bids from 24 bidders.
    One person is responsible for 37 bids.
    Nine of those bids were for the exact same amount, and they were placed within moments of each other.
    No bids have been placed today.
    Yet, if you look at the mainstream media, you would think there was an absolute frenzy going on. Crazy.

    • fauxmccoy says:

      crane says

      “Nine of those bids were for the exact same amount, and they were placed within moments of each other.”

      – – – – – – – – –

      that would be part of the autobid system. if bidder A put in your max bid and bidder B comes along with a bid between current price and bidder A’s max, autobid will keep increasing that bid up to the max. this would not take any action on bidder A’s part.

      will agree that the entire bid process looks suspect to an experienced seller. of course, i have never sold any ‘fine art’ before so it could be different in the upper echelons of the art world 😛

    • racerrodig says:

      Yesterday there were over bids at one point now its down to or so. Something is real fishy here.

  6. Girlp says:

    Made a mistake it’s still at 100,000

  7. Girlp says:

    Bid has gone from $100,000 to $9.50, at least its going in the right direction.

  8. fauxmccoy says:

    as an experienced ebay seller, what is obvious is that there are multiple accounts with 0-3 transactions who seem to be submitting schill bids to drive up the price. this violates ebay policy and i know that they, too, have been contacted.

    i would be shocked if this auction were not canceled before it ends.

  9. colin black says:

    I wonder if junior decides to do a work of art ?
    His murdering scumbum of an Afroperuvian bro has plaugerised Old Glory.
    He could paint a subject close to his heart assholes gloryholes

    • fauxmccoy says:

      colin — congrats on your marriage! i have been overwhelmed taking care of my 76 year old mom who fell and broke a few bones, so have not had my usual amount of innerwebz goof off time.

      i have had 10 hours off from all day/every day care in 2 weeks, but am making my brothers pull their weight for a long weekend. yeee haw! i’m hoping i can conjure up something that looks like a festive holiday for my family … we’ll see how far i get.

      i wish you and your partner many years of wedded bliss!

  10. mimmie sue says:

    IMO this is not the first time Georgie has used this flag. Back when he created TheRealGeorgeZimmerman.con, the first version [the one O’Migraine yanked], he used this flag as the background of each page. Check out the “My Race” page for the best view.

    Georgie is a one-trick sick phony.

  11. Seriously, nobody is paying for a piece of shit copied poster. The hundred grand is, by itself, a statement.

    A statement in support of: [insert wingnuttia ‘value’ of choice here]

  12. bgansel9 says:

    Aussie, do you think that having mocks and caricatures done is worth allowing George Zimmerman to get $100k+ for using an image he had no right to use?

  13. bgansel9 says:

    Someone has replicated the image and states this one is done with oils. Should the copyright be challenged on George Zimmerman’s, this artist could end up in a problem too:

    • Clear statement that that one is a ‘copy/replica.’ That said, I do not know copyright law, in terms of reaching back to the original…

      • bgansel9 says:

        The original always holds copyright to the parts that are original. The derivative author only can claim copyright to the parts that are derivative, not the parts that are original. The words written on the piece in type set are NOT his, the color blue cannot be claimed as his invention, the shadowing is through a filter, Zimmerman cannot claim any single part of this as his at all (and this replica might only be able to claim the text if it is actually original).

  14. aussie says:

    The genie is out of the bottle. An internet (or at least e-bay) meme has started.

    There are copies, send-ups, mocks, caricatures…. hilarious.

    Let’s not worry about suing him for copyright violations. Everyone is laughing at him.

  15. bgansel9 says:

    Manuela Krause also has the image available here: She uploaded it for sale in 2012. Judging by her other images, I’m not certain she took the image. It seems to be out of character with her other photography images. She calls it a close up of the American Flag. Palatinus had a whole entire write up on the 2006 image about why he photographed it, what it mean to him, almost a poetic description.

    Who is to say where GZ got it and what license he used? That will be another question that may take time and discovery to answer.

  16. bgansel9 says:

    I’m still not unsure that Palatinus isn’t the photographer. He seems to be a professional.!about/c240r

    It may be that whoever is the actual photographer will have to prove it in court.

  17. aussie says:

    It is very hard to prove, and sales sites more or less have to take the submitter’s word for it. If I give Getty or Shutterstock 50 images to sell for me and say they are my own work, how are they to know otherwise? And how will you prove they were actually yours?

    It was easier in film days, as you might have the negatives and I wouldn’t.

    The flag image in question is available on several sites, supposedly originating from Awen Art Studio, as a vector image, made to be easily manipulated with vector editing programs. There is even a desktop wallpaper version of it. NONE of them for free. We don’t know if either of the supposed photographers have any connection with this studio. They may have.

    I don’t believe it’s the Getty image. That is very flat and shiny, and looks cropped compared to the Shuttershock one and to GZ’s version — the red stripe area to the right is a lot smaller on the Getty one.

    The one GZ had on his begsite has enough detail to show the stitching, and the stars appear raised, ie they are obviously appliqued to their background. The Getty one doesn’t even look like a photo, so it has been ‘shopped already. Maybe it’s just a matter of resolution?

  18. bgansel9 says:

    Nevermind, I just found it. Earl G states it (I had not seen the “over a decade ago” statement prior to this morning) but, I can find no proof that the image is that old. It may be, but I can’t find any proof of it. I hope someone saved images or a receipt or something.

  19. bgansel9 says:

    If the image is indeed Manuela Krause’s image, than so long as George Zimmerman purchased a commercial license from Getty, he is fully within his rights to use the image, although stating it is original and not giving any credit to Manuela Krause should be a big no-no!

    I was aware of the DU imprints, but did not know what date they were imprinted. If the date of 10 years ago is proven correct, then Krause is probably the photographer. Where is the proof that this image is 10 years old? May I ask?

    • masonblue says:

      If the image is indeed Manuela Krause’s image, than so long as George Zimmerman purchased a commercial license from Getty, he is fully within his rights to use the image, although stating it is original and not giving any credit to Manuela Krause should be a big no-no!

      I agree.

    • I was aware of the DU imprints, but did not know what date they were imprinted. If the date of 10 years ago is proven correct, then Krause is probably the photographer. Where is the proof that this image is 10 years old? May I ask?

      I am going on the basis of what EarlG said and my memory. I think I saw those t-shirts in the run-up to the national election in 2004 (Kerry v. Bush).

      • bgansel9 says:

        Well, then I hope Manuela Krause sues the crap out of George Zimmerman for not giving her any credit. LOL If George Zimmerman makes 100k+ off this image, she should get a large chunk of it.

        • Color me pessimistic, but the courts will back him. Even if they have to make shit up. In fact, if GZ showed up at her door, and shot her in the face, or countersued her, for having the utter temerity to try to protect her own work? Courts would back him. Hey, poor, poor, George was only standing his ground, right?


          • bgansel9 says:

            While there are some blurred lines on copyright ownership with new media, the ownership of a photograph is pretty cut and dried. Whoever took the photograph holds the copyright. There may be a dispute that needs to be settled about who actually took the photograph, but, the rightful copyright is with the photographer. The courts can’t really manipulate that decision if the photographer comes forward with some verifiable proof.

          • Malisha says:

            I believe, as well, that the courts will now back Fogen in whatever he does. He knows it. What happens in the courts is once they do corrupt things for someone and create a monster, they then protect themselves (and whoever started the “protect him no matter what” crusade) by NEVER ruling against him in any way, shape or form. This crosses jurisdictions, kinds of courts (federal, state, bankruptcy, civil, criminal, etc.) and so forth. The criminals who get this going for themselves not only know it but also know how to use it. They “have something” on somebody who can’t be rolled. Probably a judge or two. Either that, or a prosecutor in an influential county.

          • I say this partly because of my own experience. I have been studying my case for a little over a year now, hope to get the bar complaint in soon, but it takes the breath away, the lengths the lawyers, including my own lawyer, and the courts will go, to back corruption. Destruction of evidence, inventing other evidence, manipulating and changing the docket, modifying recorded evidence, suborning perjury. It makes me wonder what they don’t actually do. Mind-blowing.

            Yeah, GZ is an artist. A con artist. With lots of support.

      • fauxmccoy says:

        fyi — getty’s fines for damages of copyright theft are in the $150k range plus loss of income to the violator … slee Zee Gee Zee better hope for more bids 😉

  20. bgansel9 says:

    Also, I talked to someone on Live Chat on Getty Images yesterday who acknowledged there was a question on copyright and was still asking me if I would like to purchase. I merely contacted them to find out if they had a date of upload/copyright since Joseph J. Palatinus uploaded his in 2006 (and until yesterday when he took it down, there were comments from 2006 about the image). Getty would not divulge any date information to me, but despite knowing someone informed them of copyright violation, they still seemed more than happy to sell it to me. On that note, Getty Images was recently found guilty in a copyright infringement case, along with a second publication and now owes a large chunk of money to the original photographer of the images in that case. (see Google Search on Daniel Morel, Haitian photographer who won a lawsuit against Getty Images and Agence France-Presse.

    • Thanks for this information.

      Although you haven’t explicitly stated that Palatinus created the image, you appear to believe that he did.

      I believe Manuela Krause created the image and sold it to Getty Images on a royalty free basis more than 10 years ago because Democratic Underground purchased her image from Getty Images more than 10 years ago and placed it on T-shirts.

      Getty Images identifies her as the person who created the image and retains the copyright.

  21. bgansel9 says:

    If you had done a bit more research on Hoch Sollst Du Leben, you would find out he does have a name, and an email address. I’ve sent him emails and he has removed the image from his site, probably to protect it, and hopefully he is seeking legal counsel. His name is Joseph J. Palatinus.

    • Thanks, I did not know that. A couple of days ago, I left a message for him at flickr advising him that GZ had used his image of the flag to produce what GZ calls his “original Painting” and recommended he look into it.

      I don’t have the time to chase down aliases.

      At the time, I did not know about Manuela Krause, Getty Images and Democratic Underground.

      I have no idea how he obtained the image, but it certainly appears to be identical to her image.

      If it is the same image, and he obtained it legitimately, he can resell it. However, he cannot legitimately claim to own the copyright because it remains with the person who created it.

      Since the image was not protected by a watermark, GZ could have downloaded it from flickr and used it to create his “original” masterpiece.

      Whether GZ obtained it from flickr or somewhere else, remains unknown, but he clearly used Krause’s image.

      • bgansel9 says:

        Or Palatinus’ image. Who is to say Palatinus is not the original photographer? His copyright stated “All Rights Reserved”. Having a watermark from Getty does not override the original copyright if Palatinus took the photograph.

        • Yes, I agree there is a possibility that Palatinus could have created the image. IIRC, he posted it at flickr in 2006, which is several years after Democratic Underground purchased it from Getty Images and used it on t-shirts they distributed to get out the vote in the national election, probably 2004.

          So, there is a timing problem.

          This does not mean that he could not have created the image before Manuela Krause sold it to Getty Images, but I regard that possibility as unlikely because Democratic Underground used it in a very public way that I suspect he would have noticed and inquired about. Evidently, that did not happen.

          Since you know how to contact him, you should consider asking him to post a comment here.

          Under the circumstances, however, the wiser move for him might be to contact counsel.

          Here’s where I’m coming from. Regardless who created the image, George Zimmerman clearly did not do it and has no right to claim that he did.

    • Donna says:

      I am curious. How do you know they are the same? Nothing on his blog site or website indicates he is Hoch Sollst Du Leben. I also cannot find a connection by doing a google search.

      And why did he remove his flickr site? You state he removed the image from his site, but that is not the case. He removed his entire site!

  22. fauxmccoy says:

    curious Q&A if you click the ebay link to see all questions. hundreds of questions submitted, a handful have been answered. this one is telling though

    Q: Will Mark O’Meara receive any proceeds from the sale of this painting? Dec-17-13
    A: No.

  23. Two sides to a story says:

    Nancy Grace – why doesn’t he just get a job like other people?

    • racerrodig says:

      There goes Taaffe with those “death threats” bull again. I guess Taaffe shaved his goatee to avoid being recognized.

  24. kllypyn says:

    My fear is the headlines will read he shot another kid.

  25. One thing’s for sure. He’s got something in his hands. And I don’t know what his deal is.

  26. He didn’t have to projected on the canvas but just upload it to a number of places that does that. Some graphic programs come with iPads, pcs, etc. and have a button to pick the ‘canvas’ some 1st time for free, minus shipping. I really believe he did this for the media attention, though. And for many to keep talking about it. He and his cohort treepers. It doesn’t make sense, it’s so crude, ugly and disgusting plus he still has his beg site, so getting one side against the other will help donations to flow in again…’just to make the lefties crazy’

  27. Absolutely love that Liveleaks guy. Great catch Rachael and Dolphinocean!

  28. acemayo says:

    Remember GZ he does not want media in his life
    but here he is again

    • Two sides to a story says:

      He’s eating it all up on his new Twitter account. He loves the limelight.

      • Rachael says:

        What was it, like 2 weeks? I really don’t think he can go much longer than 2 weeks without being in the news. I just can’t wait until the headlines read…

        Never mind. You probably know what I’m hopi…I mean thinkging.

  29. MDH says:

    If George does get a sell, then driving to wherever to get the cash could easily be a set up.

    In DC, E-Bay is used to set up guys who come with cash to buy a car.

    That’s because the dudes want the cash and need a pigeon to bring it.

    However, in the case of George, cash is the cheese to bring the rat to the trap.

    With all the things he does and the millions out there who hate his guts, I don’t think he lives past 2014.

  30. cielo62 says:

    In the meantime, fuckwad has 2 days left on his ebay auction, and unless ebay stops the auction, it will be more money for a scum-sucking murderer.

  31. MDH says:

    And it was a very course, indeed.

    IMO, the fraud is easier to prove and the DOJ has language pertaining to what George and his jungle are up to.

    “Auction and Retail Schemes. According to data from law enforcement and consumer protection organizations,fraudulent schemes appearing on online auction websites are among the most frequently reported form of mass-marketing fraud. These schemes, and similar schemes involving online retail sites, typically purport to offer high-value items – ranging from high-priced watches to computers to collectibles- that are likely to attract many consumers. These schemes induce their victims to send money for the promised items, but then deliver nothing or only an item far less valuable than what was promised (e.g., counterfeit or altered goods). In some cases, fraudsters email prospective victims to say that they have additional quantities of the items that had been up for auction, but persuade them to go to other websites that do not offer the consumer protections found on legitimate auction sites.”

    As far as copyrights go, George, by virtue of his very high profile, may have unearthed other people infringing this design.

  32. Y’all have about a half a semester course in intellectual property summarized here.

    • Two sides to a story says:

      Thank you. Should be interesting to see if Manuela Krause protects her copyright or not.

      Should also be very interesting to see if Fogen collects on his “creation” and what he does next to dial for dollars.

      If he’s done any deep thinking about his past actions and his life, it doesn’t show yet.

      • looneydoone says:

        Think about this two sides,
        If this *art* sells at any price, Cheorge may have found a niche market as the Thomas Kincaid in the racist, sovereign citizen, gun nut group that’s elevated him to hero status.

        There’s no limit to the number of gegaws he could produce for them…coffee mugs, key chains, cell phone cases, decorated pistol grips and rifle stocks & scopes, watchman Cheorge lawn jockey , wall clocks with his image on the face, signed xmas ornaments…hell, even a blanket with his image much like those with la virgin de Guadalupe that are sold in Mexico. Think BIG, cheorge is going to continue grifting his way through life.

        • Malisha says:

          Now, also, inflatable Samantha dolls. When you jiggle them, they say, in soft girly Florida tones, “awwwww, please take the target off Georgie-Porjie’s bayack, puh-leeeez?” Only three payments of $19.99 each. But wait …

    • bettykath says:

      thank you.

    • fauxmccoy says:

      and this is why i keep coming back … it works!

      thanks, fred, for all that you do.

  33. racerrodig says:

    I deal on e-bay a bit and I believe he’s being played there. We are to assume that anyone who truly believes in him and his cause has 100K to throw away on this crap ??

    They’ll never get the flats fixed on their houses.

    Several of the bids have been retracted or the bidder turned out was not an e-bay member.

    When any of that happens the bids are basically wiped out and a 2nd Chance Offer is extended to the next highest bidder.

    All of the high bidders have 2 or 3 purchases or feedback.

    I’d bet several people got together and said “Lets teach his ass a lesson”

    Now he says he’ll personally deliver this masterpiece……right, as if his paranoia will let him wander into a potential “death threat” issue.

    Any bets Taaffe and Robbie the Racist are the ones asking the inane questions of him ?? I asked well over 25 questions and not one was posted. Most were polite, normal questions.

    There’s a game going on here…….possibly by 2 sides.

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