Churchill: Artwork Issue Utterly Contrived

Controversial CU Professor To Get $66,000 Through State Pension

Some University of Colorado regents are wondering whether Ward Churchill violated any copyright laws when he sold artwork that had been adapted from others.

The original Thomas E. Mails' sketch is on the top left hand corner. Ward Churchill's lithograph, on the bottom right hand corner, is a mirror image of that sketch. See Other Churchill art work that's under dispute. Slideshow: See Churchill's Disputed Art Work

On Monday night, Churchill sent an e-mail to 7NEWS in response to those questions about his sketches.

"There was nothing unusual about adapting the Mails' imagery," Churchill said, referring to Thomas E. Mails. He also wondered, "How come it's taken 25 years to become breaking news?"

Churchill said, "The whole issue is utterly contrived."

One of Churchill's sketches was taken from a historic photograph. But the photograph is so old that it is considered in the public domain and therefore, any reproduction without permission would not violate copyright.

But another Churchill art piece appears to be a mirror image of the copyrighted work of the late artist Thomas E. Mails.

"If there were no permission given whether a seriograph or full color ... it would be copyright infringement," said intellectual property lawyer David Weinstein.

"Could it be that Jasper Johns was not the original designer of the American flag? Or Andy Warhol of Campbell's soup labels and Brillo boxes? Or that Marcel did not invent the urinal? Where was the outrage when Fritz Scholder did a knock-off of the famous Annheiser-Busch image of Custer's Last Stand?" Churchill asked. "In other words, there was nothing especially unusual about my adapting Mails' imagery. And if I was going to 'rip him off,' I'd neither have spoken to him about it before the fact, selected an image out of one of the best-selling books on the topic at the time I made the print, nor published an entire edition (a one-off painting would've been rather easier to hide, assuming I felt there was something to be hidden)."

The University of Colorado is continuing to investigate Churchill's work.

By this time next week, CU's chancellor is expected to give a report on the professor's writings and teachings.

Churchill To Speak In Wisconsin

Churchill is scheduled to speak at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater on Tuesday as part of Native Pride Week.

Unlike other colleges, Whitewater decided to go through with an invitation extended to Churchill six months ago to speak on campus about racism toward American Indians.

The Wisconsin state assembly passed a resolution last week asking the school to cancel Churchill's appearance, but school officials declined.

The school's chapter of the College Republicans is sponsoring a candlelight vigil Tuesday night, but members say it's not meant to protest Churchill. Rather, it will be a quiet remembrance of the 9/11 victims.

On Thursday, CU students for Churchill are scheduled to hold a rally at noon to support the professor and Churchill is expected to speak at the rally.

Churchill has been the center of debate because of an essay he wrote comparing some people who died in the 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center to Adolf Eichmann, who organized the Nazi holocaust.

A $66,000 Pension?

A state retirement program could owe Churchill more than $66,000 a year for the rest of his life, regardless of whether he's fired, resigns or is offered a buyout from CU, the Boulder Daily Camera reported Tuesday.

Because he is enrolled in the state public-employee retirement plan, Churchill could receive 67.5 percent of his highest average salary -- calculated over three years -- for the rest of his life, based on the program's eligibility chart, the newspaper reported. That would mean at least $66,000 a year if he left this spring.

Through the plan, a substitute for Social Security, employees pay 8 percent of their salaries into a fund. CU pays another 10 percent, and the money is invested for retirement. The eventual payout is based on age, years of employment and salary.

Teachers, university staff members, judges, and city and county employees are automatically enrolled in the program.

Churchill's attorney told the Associated Press that an early retirement deal would make sense.

"They want him gone. He wants to end the madness. I think it would be in everybody's best interest to come up with some compromise," attorney David Lane said.

Additional Information:

  • To see some of Churchill's disputed art work, .
  • To read Churchill's complete essay, "Some People Push Back," click here
  • To read what Churchill has to say in his defense, click here.
  • To read Gov. Owens' letter, calling for Churchill to resign click here.
  • To read CU's rules for dismissal of a tenured professor, click here.

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