In 2019, Rome based street artist Alessia Babrow decided to stick her image of Christ to a bridge near the Vatican. One year later the exact same image appeared on a set of postage stamps issued for purchase by the Vatican. As a result, Alessia is now suing the Vatican for using her artwork without consent aka copyright violation.
The violation was brought to light when a local photographer recognised Babrow’s image on the stamps and alerted her to the situation.
In an article by the Miami Herald, Alessia spoke about her disappointment and astonishment to the Associated Press in Rome, “I couldn’t believe it. I honestly thought it was a joke. The real shock was that you don’t expect certain things from certain organisations”.
The law suit which is seeking almost 130,000 euros, filed last month, appears to have fallen on deaf ears as no response has yet been received from the Vatican, who are continuing to sell the sets of stamps.
The image in question features a depiction of Christ based on the 19th century works by German painter Heinrich Hoffman. Alessia Babrow then added her trademark heart featuring the phrase ‘Just Use It’, which, under the circumstances, is rather an unfortunate statement, as it would appear the Vatican took the phrase quite literally.
The initial irony of this situation is certainly not overlooked. Firstly this is a religious organisation who preach, love, kindness and honesty etc. But, this is also a religious organisation who are highly knowledgeable in copyright law.
The Vatican houses some of the worlds most valuable and revered artworks and they are incredibly fastidious when it comes to protecting the copyright of their own art and have even gone as far as to seek royalties from journalists who requoted speeches made by the Pope… so why would they do this without seeking permission from Alessia?
“I thought they were acting in good faith, that it was true they were looking for me, like it had been written in the papers. Only it seems it wasn’t that way because they never wanted to meet with me”, said Alessia.
This is the third time in just over a month we’ve written about copyright violation. In April we wrote about Logan Hicks and Joe Iurato taking on celeb chef Salt Bae and then the My Dog Sighs and SNUB23 versus Lexus fiasco and now this.
Sadly, we are fully aware artists are being ripped off left right and centre but the fact this is a religious organisation leaves an even nastier taste in our mouths and just proves no one can be trusted.
Maybe they need to ask themselves ‘what would Jesus do’?