Artist has hard time getting back in to US for drawing of a crocheted SUV

Craft & Design
Artist has hard time getting back in to US for drawing of a crocheted SUV

What the heck is going on here? An artist had hard time getting back in to the USA for a sketch of a crocheted SUV she was working on… For copyright infringement?

Keene Valley resident Jerilea Zempel was detained at the U.S. border this summer because she had a drawing of a sport-utility vehicle in her sketchbook.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers told Zempel they suspected her of copyright infringement.

She was released after more than an hour in custody at the Houlton, Maine, port of entry from New Brunswick, Canada.

Her release came only after she persuaded border guards she was an artist doing a project that involved a crocheted SUV as a statement against America’s dependence on oil and love for big vehicles.

“After going through my (laptop) computer, digital camera, cell phone, business cards, suitcase, reading materials, boxes of yarn and crochet tools, she returned with my sketchbook.

Zempel had drawn an SUV covered by a cozy, with its mirrors marked as “ears.”

“My sketchbook puzzled her,” Zempel said. “It was a cartoon sketch. They couldn’t understand what I was doing. She said, Just what were you doing in Canada? We think you’re engaged in some kind of copyright infringement.”

24 thoughts on “Artist has hard time getting back in to US for drawing of a crocheted SUV

  1. The Oracle says:

    Well of course…why would anybody do anything artistic unless they’re part of big business “manufacturing” a work. There’s no such thing as art.

    I’m so glad I’m not American.

  2. Andy says:

    This crap has to stop. Not to get insanely political here at the nicely agnostic Make:, but seriously.

    With all of the talk about this issue and that issue during this election season, I’m not hearing nearly enough about getting our civil liberties back. There are hundreds, if not thousands of stories just like this one that are utterly ridiculous in every single way.

    Candidates toss around the word ‘freedom’ left and right, but in the end, no one talks about RIGHTS. Our right not to be treated like a criminal first and a person second, for instance.

    Look at this scenario here, the burden of proof is on this poor woman, while the government ‘agents’ in question are working with some unnamed company in mind first. I hope they’re proud of the job their doing for their corporate masters. I’m shocked this woman wasn’t just sent to Guantanamo Bay, just in case she might think about roughly sketching another vehicle.

    What a shame, our country was not founded on these principals.

  3. tnl says:

    Call me cynical but is there any proof this really happened? Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying I don’t believe it. I’m just wondering if there is anyway of proving it did.
    Maybe it’s because I’m British and we still have a tiny bit of freedom over here. Or maybe its the whole “bazaar hot-topic incident gets artists work seen” coincidence.

  4. Webster, Roget, et al. says:

    … the outright displays of ignorance and/or apathy toward spelling and/or vocabulary, that is.

    @Andy: It’s “shameful,” not “shamefil.” What does that mean, anyway?

    @tnl: You’re looking for “bizarre,” not “bazaar.” Half credit for spelling it right.

    Please, people. Unless you’re 5 years old, don’t write like you are.

    p.s. @The Oracle: you’re not the only one glad you’re not American.

  5. Evan says:

    Hey! I was wondering where I saw that before… It was in Sackville, NB. Home of Mount Allison University.

    Too bad for her. We have some wicked artists that come through Sackville. Owens Art Gallery, oldest University Art Gallery in Canada! w00t.

    …yes i go to Mt A.

  6. doubleT says:

    Being an artist crossing the US/Canada border is always a nightmare. Just this past week I had a guard give me all kind of issues because I’m a pro photographer and clearly the only reason I could be crossing the NY border with a camera is because I have a “contract”. Couldn’t possibly be visiting and wanting to take photos of my trip. I miss the days when you could go away for the weekend without being interrogated like a criminal for 30 minutes at best.

  7. Mike says:

    Oh, for Christs sake, give it a rest people.
    This has been going on since the late 90s!
    Especially at that crossing.
    I got rousted and held for half an hour just for having unmarked CDs.
    “Ve don’t vant you takink copyrighted Canadian softvare across ze border!”
    (LIke they’d have any I wanted.)
    Another time was for having a canister of butane for lighting a campfire.

    Your “civil liberties were “violated” back in the 19th century when they first started doing customs inspections. All countries do it. Time to grow up.

  8. Sketchee says:

    Mike, why should we put up with or even remotely care about copyright infringement? And even if we care a little bit about the business models born around copyright infringement, should it be to the point where our property is inspected everywhere we turn

  9. Julian says:

    Hmmmm is right, I’m calling shenanigans.

    If you have nothing to hide, don’t worry about it whiner. Like the world REALLY cares about your personal protest of US dependence on oil. Another upstate NY greenie trying to make the world safe for her Volvo no doubt.

    Don’t go away thinking that this doesn’t go both ways. Consider that Canadian authorities now use U.S. data to screen entry. Did you get nabbed for pot back in 1975? Forgot entering Canada. Got a DUI from years ago? Same thing.

    Seriously there are legitimate beefs with US Government but this is just a delicate flower getting bruised. Be thankful that you live in a country where you can actually express your opinion.

    I don’t say this as a casual observer. I’ve been to 42 countries, a lot of them in the developing world. If anything I have come to realize that the U.S. and the other countries of the developed world have turned into a bunch of whiny pussies.

  10. whoami says:

    What’s really sad and a hallmark of those individuals of lesser intelligence such as this “artist”, is that she gripes about her loss of freedom, in that she’s being searched and detained supposedly for a drawing, and then the whole message of her drawing is the proposed loss of freedom for others. She’s demonizing SUVs, and presumably wishing the government would ban, or at least regulate out of existence.

    Pieces of filth like this make me sick.

  11. Matthew says:

    Not to interrupt the flame war, but I’m just plain confused. Outside of the whole civil-rights/political/kitchen-sink debate here, how the hey-now did that doodle constitute copyright infringement? Or even a threat of it?

    This is just seems like a total communication breakdown or something.

    Outside of that, calm down folks. America’s okay, just stop staring at the ass-end of it all the time.

    ( ^ _ ^ ) /

  12. Nik Lasers says:

    I’m with Matthew on this one. So a weird doodle of a product is a copyright infringement? Unless, of cause, that front grill turns out to be some uber efficient way of cooling an engine. =D

    I better censor any photos I take whilst on holiday in case there happens to be a commercial product in view.

    @”Webster, Roget, et al.”: Worthless troll. Go away.

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