Well, since Pat says X, I guess I have to say not-X...
Dakota War College portrays the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's enforcement of rules as tyranny against a six-year-old calling for Congressional action.
Six-year-old Madison Grimm from Burbank, South Dakota, won the 2013 national Junior Duck Stamp contest last weekend with a painting of a canvasback duck. Some parents and teachers questioned whether the painting was really young Grimm's own handiwork. The Federal Duck Stamp Service looked into the painting further. Grimm's dad Adam, a wildlife artist himself, said Madison traced one of his photos for her painting. They checked with their lawyers and decided to rescind Grimm's award and give the top prize to Pete Coulter of Washington, Missouri, for his painting of two snow geese.
Pat Powers flips, calling on Congress to take names and kick tailfeathers:
This is absolutely shameful on the part of the government. They wrote the rules, but didn’t like it when someone followed them....
When bureaucrats take on 6 year old girls, it’s time to take action, and I would encourage our congressional delegation to do so [Pat Powers, "Your Federal Government at work – attacking a 6 year old for following the rules," Dakota War College, 2013.04.27].
Absolutely shameful? Good grief. The whole kerfuffle revolves around whether Grimm's pencil tracing of one of her dad's photos projected onto her canvas constitutes a violation of the Junior Duck Stamp contest rules. So let's read the rules:
Design entries must be the contestant’s original, hand-illustrated creation and may not be traced or copied from published photographs or other artists’ works. Photographs taken by the student may be used as references in the development of the design. Computers or other mechanical devices may not be used in creating artwork [p. 7].
If using a photo as reference, extensively change the “attitude” of the duck for your creation. For example, if the duck’s head is upright, draw it facing down as if it is drinking water, or turn the angle of the duck’s head. If the duck in the photo is in profile, draw the bird as if it is turning its body at a different angle. If the photo of the duck is in overall sunlight, change and paint the bird with a “sidelight.” If the duck is swimming on blue water in a published photo, paint or draw your own water ripples and make it greenish in color... [p. 17].
If using a reference painting, change it to fit your style and ideas. If you see a painting of a scene of ducks on a log, go find your own log and your own duck reference, change the species and setting, make it your own idea based on the work of another that inspired you [p. 17].
[U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, "2013 Federal Junior Duck Stamp Program and Contest"]
Entrants and their parents and teachers also sign an Authenticity and Liability Statement that includes these words:
I hereby certify that this is my original work and not copied or traced from published photos, magazines, books, illustrations, artists’ published works or other materials protected by copyright laws [Junior Duck Stamp Conservation and Design Contest Entry Form].
A photo taken by another artist is protected by copyright law. (That's why I'm not posting images of Grimm's or Coulter's paintings here, since given the concern of everyone involved here about stickler readings of the rules, I don't care to confuse the issue with a debate over fair use.) If we're going to get all sticklery over the reading of the rules—and when $5,000 in federal prize money is at stake, it's o.k. to be sticklery—the rules make it pretty clear that an entrant can't trace someone else's photo.
The point of the Junior Duck Stamp program is to encourage kids to study and appreciate wildlife and create good art. But when we have a contest with prizes, we need rules to keep things fair. The Fish and Wildlife Service is wisely following those rules. Anyone seeking to make a federal case out of this affair is quacking up the wrong stream.