Chris Brown Lifts Visual Artist's Work, Posts to His 58 Million Followers Uncredited

Chris Brown Lifts Visual Artist's Work, Posts to His 58 Million Followers Uncredited

A Skillshare-endorsed visual artist received a direct message on Instagram informing him that musician Chris Brown had posted his work without a single mention of where it had come from. The artist had made the image in question available to download for free from his website, provided credit is given, but Brown failed to do that.

Never straying far from controversy, this is just the latest in a series of online backlashes Brown has been on the receiving end of. Posting Don Mupasi’s visuals without credit, he wrote in the caption: “Imagination vibrate wit me.”

Speaking after finding out of the reposting, Mupasi said:

In some weird way, it does mean my work is actually pretty decent if people are willing to just grab it like that. But at the same time, it's not a huge benefit to me if somebody like that takes my work and doesn't credit me.

View this post on Instagram

Imagination vibrate wit me

A post shared by CHRIS BROWN (@chrisbrownofficial) on

The artwork is part of a collaboration with a friend of Mupasi’s, who provides the audio to his visuals. What’s worse, Brown reposted the image with a different track playing over the top of it, a tune Mupasi says is “really not the kind of vibe [he] wanted for that piece of work.”

Posting on Reddit, he showed the two posts side by side, being upvoted nearly 80,000 times in the process. Radio 1 Newsbeat has contacted Chris Brown's team for comment. As of writing, no word back.

I want people to know it's me who created it. I think that's fair. If he had tagged me and just gave credit, I would have been cool with that.

All artwork: Don Mupasi / VisualDon.

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45 Comments

Edison Wrzosek's picture

Chris Brown is an ass hat, everyone knows this, but the author of the image, Don Mupasi, made a very naive mistake:

"The artist had made the image in question available to download for free from his website, provided credit is given"

What did you expect then? With people like Chris Brown being the normal on thieving dumpsters like Instagram, this was bound to get "lifted" sooner or later...

Honestly, if he posted the file to his site and provided a download link, he shouldn't be crying about it getting posted without crediting him.

Not defending CB here, as like I said, he's trash, but the author is also to blame for this.

Matthew Teetshorn's picture

The artist isn't to blame in any way for this and that's why licensing and copyright exist. He may not have protected himself as much as he could, but that doesn't make him responsible for what happened. Put any other crime in that place and you'll see how ridiculous that sounds.

"There are robbers outside, for going outside he's partly to blame for getting robbed!"

Edison Wrzosek's picture

Yes, there IS blame to be placed on the artist here, as he took NO steps in protecting himself or his work. Quite the contrary, his behaviour and lack of implementing ANY sort of protection on his work encouraged this.

And it’s not ridiculous sounding at all. It’s called taking responsibility. Like I said, CB is to blame for the theft and lack of recognition to the original artist, the artist is to blame for creating the opportunity for someone like CB in the first place by being naive and not taking any sort of precaution to protect himself or their work. So be an adult and take responsibility for your action, or lack thereof.

Matthew Teetshorn's picture

He DID take steps to protect his work. The only ones available to him. There is no system by which you can give your photos away with attribution and truly enforce that from a technological standpoint. The law exists to protect this, not some form of "security" he could put on his photos or videos.

You don't "encourage" crime by releasing your work. That's literally why the law exists, so you can show your work and STILL be protected.

Edison Wrzosek's picture

WRONG... He did NOT take steps to protect his work, he put it out on his website without ANY protections at all, regardless of how effective (or not) they may be, and told everyone “Download it for free, just credit me”, what sort of “protection” is that???

Give me a break... First off, if you’re gonna post something online, one shouldn’t expect it won’t get stolen even if you DO implement protections. But this guy just uploaded the files for all to download and thought this sort of thing wouldn’t happen??

Oh, and how much does it cost to mount a legal case against someone who steals your work? How much do photographers make on average, and how many of those could actually spend the money to go after the thief? You making the claim “the law is there to protect us” Is a smokescreen afforded to very few due to the costs involved.

If you do what this artist did thinking all you need is the “law” to protect your work, you’re beyond foolish.

Matthew Teetshorn's picture

Thanks for the conversation. I found it very valuable.

Matthew, see it this way. You leave your Goldwing's door open and the key in the indignation in a crowded area. When you come back to the car, it's gone. Who is the blame for the stolen car. Yes, the person that stole the car. Then the question is why? And the reason is because the car was left with the door open and the key in the ignition in a crowded area. Yep, that was your fault.

Matthew Teetshorn's picture

This is not even remotely the same thing. The internet is the place where people display their art, it isn't a "crowded area" on the street where you have the option of leaving the door locked. If you want to give your work away with attribution, there is no "door lock" to put on your work. You make it available and the laws that protect copyright protect it.

Posting your work online, as an artist, and allowing people to use it within the previously stated rights attributed by copyright law is NOT the artist's fault for "letting someone steal it". Period.

Edison Wrzosek's picture

"You make it available and the laws that protect copyright protect it."

That statement is as naive as the artists original action in leaving the full file available for download with no protections, watermarking, metadata at all...

The copyright law does NOT protect the actual file! And in the event the file is taken and used without consent or credit, and you identify the person who stole, and is illegally using said file, the costs of mounting a legal campaign against that person to stop them from continued illegal use is often too high for most photographers to undertake, and at that point the damage has been done, so the law didn't do jack to protect you.

Also, organizations such as Instagram and Facebook often DECLINE takedown requests on grounds of copyright, so the content is left online.

Anyone who defers to copyright law as the sole method of protecting your work is completely ignorant of reality.

Matthew Teetshorn's picture

Watermarking does not protect your images in ANY way. We don't know if he had metadata on the file. He specifically wanted people to be able to use the file therefore cannot have download protection on it. The costs are irrelevant. He's still not wrong for what he did. There is literally nothing he could have done in this situation beyond what he did, given that he WANTED people to use the file. You're being ridiculous. I'm done debating this with you.

You mentioned. Making your work available to download and use. How would you use a free image? He never stated for personal use only. Font designers will provide their designs freely with a disclaimer that the font is to be used for personal use only and for commercial rights to contact the designer. If he provided a disclaimer with restrictions then this would have been a different story.

Perfect example of blaming in the victim Edison. The only way he could have really protected himself from this kind of theft was to not make it available for others to view.

Edison Wrzosek's picture

That is totally incorrect, as digital asset protection mechanisms do exist and are readily available to help prevent theft of digital content.

Granted, they aren’t always effective, and like the saying goes “There’s no lock that a smart man can’t pick”, but this guy didn’t even do that, he admitted to posting it up for free to everyone, and naively asked to be credited if they use it.

Like I commented to Jeff, that’s like leaving the front door of your house open and foolishly trusting people will just come in and look without taking anything.

You are totally incorrect. Theft is theft. Making excuses for Chris Brown on this site for stealing someone else's work is not going to be well received here by professionals in the field.
I work for a huge, very conservative corporation. We have guidance constantly regarding theft like this and never to even think about doing it.
I'm guessing you're excusing it because you do it.
It's criminal, period.

Edison Wrzosek's picture

Excuse me? Where did I make an “excuse” for Chris Brown??

That’s right, I didn’t! I placed blame on him, because there’s no other way to slice it! He stole it, straight up, and I said it. Might want to re-read my original post...

Oh, and nice accusation there saying I probably do the same, nice pal, really classy.

The “professionals” on this site seem to be taking issue that I dared place any blame on the artist as well, as if he is untouchable or something. Guess what, he has blame in this as well, along with Chris Brown. If you don’t think this is the case, too bad... Maybe be more objective and less one-sided.

"Guess what, he has blame in this as well."

Right there you blamed him.
And every post has been one excuse after another for Chris Brown.

Why else would you so obstinately defend his theft?

Nothing subjective here. It's theft, plain and simple.

Edison Wrzosek's picture

OMG, are you for real??? Ever heard the term Devil’s Advocate?

Let me enlighten you:

“In common parlance, the phrase playing devil's advocate describes a situation where someone, given a certain point of view, takes a position they do not necessarily agree with (or simply an alternative position from the accepted norm), for the sake of debate or to explore the thought further using a valid reasoning that both disagrees with the subject at hand and proves their own point valid.”

That statement “he has blame in this as well” is 100% valid, and can only be denounced if you have blinders on. And no, none of my posts here have been “one excuse after another for Chris Brown”.

If you cannot bring yourself to see both sides of this coin, then I’m done with you.

Yes please enlighten me. I'm old enough to be your Grandfather.
Let me clue you in.
Learn how to admit you're wrong, or learn to quietly leave the conversation.

Edison Wrzosek's picture

Your age, and mine, has no relevance on this conversation. In fact, if you are indeed old enough to be my grandfather, then your generation should appreciate being able to take both sides of a discussion / debate without resorting to your form of one-sided, pitch fork logic.

Good luck kid.

Jeff Walsh's picture

Someone breaks into your house and steals all your belongings, it's your fault for not having better security. See how stupid that argument is, and you look for saying it.

Edison Wrzosek's picture

That analogy is not applicable since securing physical assets entails a totally different dynamic than securing digital assets, which he did not.

Remember, he openly said he left it out in the open on his site for anyone to download, and then gets upset when someone does just that, and doesn’t credit his work. Based on your logic and analogy, that would be analogous to him leaving his front door open with the welcome matt rolled out as if for an open house without the aid of a realtor to vet the people coming thru the door, or to keep an eye on them,, only to be stunned that some of the people to come in helped themselves to his stuff!

That’s called naivety, straight up. And no, it’s not a stupid argument, I stand by it 100%, as it’s factual. If he had taken reasonable steps to prevent theft of his work, such as installing some form of download / screenshot protection on his site, or watermarked it, or SOMETHING, and I had made such a comment, then I would be totally out of line.

Not in this case.

Matthew Teetshorn's picture

Guess what. If you leave your door open and roll out a welcome mat and have a realtor it's STILL illegal to steal your stuff. GASP!

Edison Wrzosek's picture

At least on my site I did invest time to implement some protections, but like I already stated, there is no lock that a smart man can’t pick.

Oh, and thank you for showing everyone here you are a thief and cannot read, as I stated Chris Brown IS to blame for lifting the image, but one has to look at the whole situation and assign blame where blame is due.

There is nothing irrational with this stance or line of reasoning, yet your response, going to my site and stealing my work to try and demonstrate that my statements are somehow invalid are childish at best.

Needless to say you have been reported to the moderators here for theft, hope this was worth it to you.

Clearly you didn’t take enough steps to protect your work if anyone can just snap a pic lol. You need to “be an adult and take responsibility for your actions”, I believe it was.
It’s interesting how quickly your point of view changes when it’s your work being stolen

Edison Wrzosek's picture

You've already had that post taken down by mods, want to try again?

Your actions are childish to say the least, and paint you in an INCREDIBLY poor light.

If the artist reports the CB post for breaking the usage agreement, that photo will get taken down. You both responded after the violation was made, so your argument there is invalid. I was simply showing how easy it it is for someone to take something.

Also I’m not the one who has gotten over 20 downvotes so maybe you should reconsider who is painted in a poor light. Clearly everyone here knows you’re being ridiculous.

Edison Wrzosek's picture

The people downvoting me here all seem to think I am somehow defending CB in this discussion, and are seemingly incapable of having a rational discussion to look at both sides of this, where I was simply trying to point out there is blame on both parties here.

If they want to downvote me for a lack of basic debating / discussion skills and instead pull out the pitch forks, go for it, I don't give a hoot.

Jeff Walsh's picture

So you are saying that all your images on your website are free to be stolen and used without compensation in any way. Nice. I'll have a look around and see if I can't lift anything. Best part is, you admit it to be your own fault. Again, see how stupid both that argument and the people saying it are?

Edison Wrzosek's picture

Nice that you seemingly fail to be able to hold a rational conversation or see the points I am trying to make in all this, and instead lash out with threats of now going to my site and see what you can pilfer from it. As my site does have mechanisms in place, and my images have copyrights / watermarks on them, if you attempt to steal those, as I do NOT put them online for all to download as the original artist did, you risk a legitimate legal response.

See the difference here? I’m guessing you won’t since your post above indicates you do not.

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