Copyright and “fair use” issues are something all artists – in licensing or otherwise – should be very aware of. Some say “if I change at least 25% I’m fine” – as in, I can take something that someone else did, alter it a bit and call it brand new. Well… not always and really, is this the best way to create?
There are enough instances where two or more artists have similar inspiration without ever seeing the other person’s work. Perhaps they were tracking the same trends, watching or listening to something that sparked an idea… who knows.
The recent ruling in the case against Shepard Fairey by the Associated Press has upheld copyright protections – “use someone else’s art – in the case a photograph – and there will be consequences.”