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Duck, duck… lawsuit?

Madison Grimm, age 6, is the artist behind the painting of a canvasback duck you see here. Madison submitted it to the 2013 Federal Junior Duck Stamp Art Contest, and last month she became the youngest winner in the competition’s history.

But then questions were raised about the “painting’s authenticity” and poor Madison was disqualified.

Madison’s dad is a wildlife artist and her painting was based on an unpublished photo her father took. The Grimms’ hometown Argus (S.D.) Leader picks up the story:

She also used a technique called a graphite transfer, where an artist applies a pencil lead to a print of the photo to create an outline for a painting. Both are legal, and both are accepted and common among artists…

Madison’s dad hired a Washington, D.C., lawyer to help reinstate his daughter as the winner, according to the Leader. The legal questions abound — was Madison’s technique legal? Did she violate any copyright or fair use laws by using the photo as the basis of her painting? Could the duck file its own suit alleging his (or her) image was used for commercial purposes without her consent?

Alas, we’ll never know all of the answers — the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service announced it reinstated Madison and her painting as the winner after “careful consideration.”

So congratulations to Madison and thanks for inspiring me to try to find my inner-artist.

It’s just too bad I’m too old to take a quack at this contest.