Moore’s painting, legal battle continues


William Evans

Daniel Moore believes in God, Trent Richardson and the legacy of Alabama football.

Moore, a 1976 UA graduate and sports artist, has captured some of the most historic moments in Alabama football since his first painting in 1979 depicting the famous “Goal Line Stand” that stopped Penn State from crossing the one-yard line in the 1979 Sugar Bowl.

To commemorate the Crimson Tide’s victory in the BCS National Championship game against Louisiana State University, Moore will complete a two-phased painting by summer 2012.

The bottom half, designed as a standalone piece that can be purchased separately, depicts the Crimson Tide defense surrounding LSU quarterback Jordan Jefferson. In the center, Dont’a Hightower is stripping the football from the unsure hands of Jefferson.

The top half features in its center the catch Kevin Norwood made in leaping above the head of LSU defensive back Tyrann Mathieu, the player who served as the face of LSU during the season and in the Heisman Trophy contest as one of the candidates.

“If there was one image out of that game that visually you could look at it and you could tell who won the game, it was that play,” Moore said. “Having Alabama up over the face of LSU means Alabama over LSU, and that’s the right order for us Alabama fans. The rest of the painting tells how Alabama won the game.”

Moore attributes the victory in New Orleans to the strong performance of the Crimson Tide defense. In deciding how to artistically represent that performance, he settled upon a montage.

“Some people might like to see sort of a classical composition that’s not a montage, so I try not to overuse that,” he said. “Most of the time, I would like it to be a particular scene that you can walk into, but this is sort of a time-lapse photo of the game.”

Moore’s artwork has been a subject of legal controversy since the University filed suit against him in 2005. The litigation contests Moore’s right to sell posters and prints made from his paintings without first obtaining a license from the University.

A United States District Court in Birmingham ruled largely in his favor in November 2009, but the University appealed the court ruling that affirmed Moore’s artwork as protected speech under the First Amendment.

In its appeal, the University is seeking to protect “the value and reputation of our trademarks, name, colors, indicia and logos, by determining who uses them, as well as when and how they are used,” said Deborah Lane, assistant vice president for University relations, in a recent New York Times article on the lawsuit.

Moore views his paintings as a form of loyalty to the tradition of Alabama football.

“I don’t create the tradition,” he said. “I just express it from an artist’s standpoint.”

For more than two decades, Moore was given sideline passes and allowed to borrow memorabilia from the Paul W. Bryant Museum, such as helmets, jerseys and trophies, to use as references for inspiring his paintings.

When the University proposed in 1999 to have Moore pay a licensing fee for all of his images of the football team, he declined to cooperate. In 2001, he was barred from the sidelines.

“It’s just ludicrous for them to sue after that long,” he said. “That is a nap of Rip Van Winkle proportion. Not only did they not sue me for those 20-some-odd years, but they were selling unlicensed prints of mine every single year.

“I’m embarrassed for them.”

This morning, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta will hear the oral arguments of the University on behalf of its interest to preserve Crimson Tide trademark rights, Moore said.

The next step for the lawsuit, if the University loses the appeal, would be the Supreme Court, he said.

“There comes a time to fight some things, and I think a constitutional issue is worth fighting for,” he said. “A win for the University would hurt a lot of other artists out there who work in a lot of other things besides football, such as photography. The University wants this total control, and they’re out of control and don’t need it.”