“Taking great brands and reinterpreting them is nothing new. Take Dapper Dan screenprinting Louis Vuitton logos on streetwear in the late 80s and making luxury accessible to a different socio-economic crowd, or Supreme’s ironic appropriation of Barbara Kruger’s anti-capitalist art for their logo – it has been happening for decades,” says Delhi-based illustrator Pia Alizé Hazarika. “The lawsuit is a classic example of big brands taking themselves a bit too seriously. Is this copyright infringement? May be. But I think all art is derivative, so it’s also a natural evolution of art and design.
Aparajita Jain, co-director of Nature Morte, believes that given the magnitude of the sums involved, Rothschild using the Last name branding is the issue – “because how do you know if NFTs are selling because the Birkin name is attached or because of the satirical content of the work itself?”
Jain is also the founder of Terrain.art, a blockchain-powered online gallery that aims to democratize art, with plans to launch an open NFT marketplace this month. Srinivas Aditya Mopidevi, curator at Terrain, says: “It’s a beautiful puzzle. This deregulated system, where the value of an NFT can go from 1 to 100 ETH overnight, feeds on some form of authentication. But the idea of IP in the NFT space isn’t fully defined, so what’s interesting about MetaBirkins is that people are finding out about it as the issue emerges. For this new hybrid world, navigating fair legislation and standards is a work in progress. “For example, royalties are practically non-existent for a visual artist in India, but it’s the fairest thing to do. So how do you institute it in the metaverse? Jain asks.
Broaden the horizons of art?
Jugal C, a self-taught designer from Mumbai, has worked in the industry for 10 years. According to him, no one can own an artistic style, but the MetaBirkins are a bit tired. “I’m not with either of them personally, but of course Rothschild is riding on the notoriety of Birkins. The public will rally behind him now because Hermès is chasing him.