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Appropriation Art Meets De-Appropriation Art -- An Art Movement Born?

by Brian Sherwin on 4/30/2011 1:02:46 PM

This article is by Brian Sherwin, Regular contributing writer for FineArtViews. Brian Sherwin is an art critic, blogger, curator, artist and writer based near Chicago, Illinois. He has been published in Hi Fructose Magazine, Illinois Times, and other publications, and linked to by publications such as The Boston Globe, Juxtapoz Magazine, Deutsche Bank ArtMag, ARTLURKER, Myartspace, Blabbermouth, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Modern Art Obsession, Citizen LA, Shark Forum, Two Coats of Paint and Art Fag City. You should submit an article and share your views as a guest author by clicking here.


I'm starting to think that De-Appropriation may become the next trendy art movement-- at least online. I doubt that was Cat Weaver's intention when she revealed her "first ever De-Appropriation" of artist Richard Prince's work on a Hyperallergic article shortly after a court ruled in favor of photographer Patrick Cariou-- deeming Prince a copyright infringer.


In the weeks since Weaver's Hyperallergic article-- which I covered not long ago-- I've noticed a few De-Appropriation gems floating around websites that I visit. These creations-- all of which have been posted anonymously-- clearly take jabs at specific artists who have a wide interpretation of what appropriation art should be and an even wider interpretation of the legal concept of 'fair use'. The targeted artists-- at least from what I've observed so far-- are individuals who have lost copyright infringement lawsuits or have settled out of court after being exposed for alleged copyright infringement. I've taken the liberty of showing the 'original' image based on appropriation next to the image that was appropriated from-- followed by the De-Appropriation. Images and descriptions below:


Left image: A painting by Joy Garnett. Middle image: The photograph by Susan Meiselas that Garnett appropriated. Right image: The De-Appropriation


Left image: A collage by Richard Prince. Middle image: The photograph by Patrick Cariou that Prince appropriated. Right image: The De-Appropriation.


Left image: A collage by Shepard Fairey. Middle image: The photograph owned by the AP that Fairey appropriated. Right image: The De-Appropriation.


Those who follow my articles on FineArtViews know that I have some concerns about wide interpretations of the legal concept of 'fair use' in regards to appropriation-- and that I've offered solutions that may help artists to protect images of their art as well as the intention of the original art. I firmly believe that without strong copyright protection-- given the context of the consumer culture we live in-- the visual art community would lose what little grasp it has on culture as a whole. Furthermore, in my opinion the art market in the United States would become meaningless-- or at least severely hampered-- if strong copyright protection did not exist.


In closing, I call De-Appropriation an art movement in jest-- I'd say that the examples above are more of a movement against known or alleged copyright infringers. However, I suppose with enough momentum this direction of image making could become something more than images made to spur laughs. It will be interesting to see if-- and how-- these artists will respond to the dismantling of their images. My guess is that it won't become an issue unless profit is involved-- and if that occurs the offended artists will only serve to contradict themselves.


Take care, Stay true,


Brian Sherwin

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Related Posts:

Copyright Rules the Throne: An Art World Prince Fails to Prove Fair Use

When Copyright Infringers Become Victims... Part 1 - The Corporate Angle

Appropriation meets De-Appropriation in Response to Richard Prince risking the Stability of the Art Market

Copyright Registration: Protecting Yourself as Well as Your Collectors

Don't Fear The Copycats

How do we protect our copyrighted images on the Internet?

Is it OK for Other Websites to Use Your Copyrighted Images?

Protecting Copyrighted Images Revisited

Topics: art appreciation | Brian Sherwin | copyright | FineArtViews | Think Tank 

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Sharon Weaver
Similar subject in the film "Exit Through the Gift Shop." It gives some interesting insight into this problem and a look at the buying public who can't seem to get enough. For artists who say there are NO rules the lines that divide inspiration from infringement often become blurred especially when there is a buck to be made.

Brian Sherwin
Thanks Sharon. I have not seen that film-- but will def' check it out. I know that many artists who appropriate often claim that copyright hampers creativity. Most view images they find as just "material"-- a view shared by a handful of art critics, including Jerry Saltz.

This is the way I see it-- if images found online or in print are just "material" the artist should be expected to 'pay' when necessary just as a painter pays for paint, a sculptor pays for clay, a video artist pays for recording equipment-- and so on.

Part of the challenge of appropriation as a method-- at least in my opinion-- is to use critical thinking when the image you want to use is an image that legally you can't use without proper payment. In other words, contact the owner for collaboration, payment, or find an image close to the image that you wanted to use that is free to use.

What alarms me is that most of the loudest voices in support of weak copyright are artists-- such as the ones mentioned above-- who have a tendency to not contact copyright owners. It begs the question-- why are they wary of collaborating with others? Why do they attach the work with a price tag-- which increases the validity of an infringement lawsuit? In response to that these artists tend to suggest that the image they appropriated from is not that important-- or that the owner is "mediocre". If that is the case-- why appropriate?

Furthermore, why do they get upset when another artist appropriates from their work? Shepard Fairey claims that he is OK with others appropriating from him-- but he also sends out cease-and-desist letters like candy and has been quoted as calling artists who have done just that as "mimics" and "parasites".

I realize that one could suggest that Fairey can't control what his legal team does-- but why does he have a legal team to protect his images if he truly feels that wide interpretations of 'fair use' should be the standard? Why has he called artists who appropriate his iconic images "parasites" or worse? Contradiction after contradiction.

I will play the devils advocate here and say that...correct me if I'm wrong, in regards to the middle painting...if you say that where you got it from, is that not the same as referencing your material? I am not sure what the big deal is here...I don't see the above examples as "stealing"! Yes the photographer had to travel to a far off place to get the photograph...but good for him! I am both a photographer and painter and do not see the relation...both are entirely different media in my mind. It just gets to the point where it is rediculous...everything is going to resemble something else eventually. Someone esle is going to see the same pose, from the same angle...And if they give the photographer credit, stating that is where they got it from, then good for the photographer!
I just don't think they have the right to control what the artist does. Just wanted to voice "my" opinion...

Brian Sherwin
Jacqueline, so would you be OK if another painter appropriated from images of your paintings, presented them to the public without giving you credit, and sold them for millions? -- And from that point on people who view your work think that you 'ripped off' the artist who appropriated your work? Would that be acceptable to you?

Brian Sherwin
Or are you saying that you would be OK with that in regard to the work of photographers only?

That is not what I said...I said that if they give reference to my original work, then I don't think it is my business...unless they "defiled" it, using it for hate crimes or something crazy like that. But if they are expressing themselves in the world...what right do I have to judge them? You state clearly that in the one case, the reference to the photographer was infact given, but for some reason it was turned on them as evidence that they admit they knew where the photo came from...unless I am reading this wrong...seems odd that the courts would then turn around and use it against the artist who was, I would imagine, giving reference for the very reason that it was not his photograph he was using!?

Ron Grauer
Brian Sherwin, Everything you say in the variety of posts you have made is absolutely true and it is of virtually no importance to 99 percent of the artists in the world.
These issues are of the typical "tempest in a teapot" variety. The major artists of the world seem to get by without all that "legalese" kill or be killed rhetoric.
The unknown, starving artists, which most of are, have little to fear if some nutcake copies our work...or even sells it. So what! Only the fear driven Neo Conservatives worry about such drivel.
Hard working artists are busy making art, whether they are famous or not. Only the nitpickers of the world are concerned with these "dangers"
Relax, the art world is not being stolen. You do not need an attorney standing by your easel. Paint.

Either my art or photography. For example if someone uses my painting for reference for their painting and they manage to sell it...and they give me reference/acknowledgment for the use of my painting, then I am ok with it...if they don't and try to pass it off as only their idea...then I would have to protect my copyrights. Even would have to be clear to the average viewer...not an art expert, that it was a "copy" of the original painting done by me. I understand it might hurt " a lot" when we are talking millions...but then, now that I think about it, that's when it might make sense to challenge the rights... / ; ) Then who is really trying to make money off the other!? Maybe if we were talking millions...I might be tempted to see what a judge thought!

Brian Sherwin
Jacqueline, my understanding is that Prince acknowledged the book, Yes Rasta, by Patrick Cariou that he took images from in passing during a discussion that took place prior to receiving a cease-and-desist request from Cariou. However, that does not qualify as giving proper credit under current copyright law.

In listings of the image Cariou was never mentioned. Even if proper credit were made that does not mean that it is acceptable. That said, the fact that Prince chose to not acknowledge Cariou directly speaks volumes in my opinion-- especially when he was fully aware that the images are protected by copyright.

In Prince's case you have to consider that he did not use just one image of Cariou's photographs-- he used dozens. Not to mention that Cariou's photography involved years of research of the people he photographed-- at least from what I've read about it.

The fact remains that Cariou would have likely not been able to attract a law firm for a copyright infringement lawsuit had Prince not exhibited the images for profit. Profit is a big issue here-- had Prince exhibited the images without prices involved Cariou would have likely not had a case. Copyright does not block creativity per se-- it blocks people from profiting off of the work of others.

Brian Sherwin
Ron, I think you have your percentages wrong. In fact, I'd say that less than 1 percent of visual artists want wide interpretation of 'fair use' to be the standard. Most artists, and I've been in contact with thousands over the years-- want strong copyright protection. Of the 500 interviews I've had with artists over the years only 3 supported weak copyright-- and that was mainly because their process depends on easy access to images.

I'm sorry-- but I don't think copyright should be slaughtered just so a relatively small number of artists can avoid compensating others when they desire to profit from work involving the work of others. Those who want weak copyright should have the integrity to say that profit is the issue instead of waving the banner of creativity in support of weak copyright.

Artists have fought long and hard for copyright. Even if you look at social art sites, such as Myartspace, Artwanted, and DeviantART, and some of the debates that have occurred over terms of service you will find that the majority of artists want their work to be protected by copyright. Combined we are talking about millions of artists. Artists on all of those sites have banned together at one point or the other to have terms of service written differently in order to make ownership of images clear.

Most artists want the right to profit from their images if they desire without having to compete with their own images. Most want to have some control over how their images are used due to ethical reasons. Most would not be happy if they visited their local Walmart and discovered that their images are being used on $1 prints. Most want to know that if something happens to them their family will have some say in how the art they left behind is used.

You are right, not all artists think about profit-- but most artists, and other creatives, do want to be recognized for the contribution they make. I've known of very few artists who introduce their creative efforts anonymously. Most want recognition. Copyright secures that and more. Copyright protects artists from all walks of life.

It is very important for artists who support copyright to place some focus on current issues involving copyright. Had artists not paid attention over the last decade alone specific laws that would have hampered the majority of artists would have been passed. Instead, artists in support of copyright organized petitions and other actions to make their opinion known. Those laws did not get off the ground because of that action. That should tell you something about what most artists want.

Ron, most artists don't have an attorney on call over copyright issues. Oddly enough, some of the biggest supporters of weak copyright within the 'art world'-- Shepard Fairey, Richard Prince, Jeff Koons, and so on-- do. What does that tell you?

Brian Sherwin
Jacqueline, that you are OK with people using images of your art or photography as long as they give you proper credit is your choice. That said, I don't think copyright law should be changed to take that choice away from the majority of artists.

The artists mentioned in the article have all used images without giving proper credit and have faced court due to that or have settled out of court after facing allegations. Thus, based on your own words I would think that you would have issue with all three of them.

That you choose not to initiate your rights under current copyright law is also your choice. It is your choice if you decided not to pursue a copyright infringement lawsuit. Choice is something to consider-- copyright owners should have the choice to take legal action if they desire.

Based on your words I can only assume that you think Cariou-- in the case of Prince-- is being a vulture for upholding his rights under current copyright law. Do correct me if I'm wrong. Copyright law exists so that people can protect their market-- especially if the images are registered as is the case with Cariou's work. Is Cariou wrong for protecting his work? Is he wrong for securing his market? I don't think so.

In order for copyright law to be strong there must be a penalty for infringement-- if not copyright would have no meaning and artists, such as Prince, would continue to infringe knowing they would only receive a slap on the wrist if challenged in court. If you break the law you do so knowing what you may face. Prince was fully aware of what could happen-- so much so that he refused to address the issue with Cariou-- which forced Cariou to take a step further toward protecting his rights.

Whether or not Patrick Cariou took legal action against Prince strictly for want of money does not matter. It was within his rights to take action-- and he did. In my opinion, I would think that Prince's integrity should be called into question before Cariou is placed under the scope.


Then I must be part of the 1 percent that doesn't mind someone using parts of my work to inspire their work.

You said it, "for profit". I don't create for profit. I create to contribute to the world. Would be nice to make a living at it...but the chances of that are slim, as they have always been for the artist.

I almost wonder if Cariou and Prince might be...oh I better not say that or I might get sued! ; 0

It seems to me that artists are too preoccupied with copyright...the pendulum has swung too far maybe?! Don't know, but must say this is a very interesting topic. Thanks for the discussion!

Don't you get inspired by other's art and photogrpahy??? I do. I don't copy...I use other's work to inspire thoughts, feelings, remember dreams...I don't think, "oh that looks like it might make me some money, I should copy that"! All I can speak for in myself!

I also gain knowledge on techniques...I like to investigate how that was did they do that?

I think we just need to be careful we don't shoot ourselves in the has happened to well known artists just recently...they accidently signed over their rights to their own work!!! Can you imagine! That would be aweful!

Just some things to think about...

Brian Sherwin
Jacqueline, you said, "You said it, "for profit". I don't create for profit. I create to contribute to the world. Would be nice to make a living at it...but the chances of that are slim, as they have always been for the artist."

If copyright is allowed to be chipped away it will be even more difficult to profit for those who do. The fact that you don't create artwork that you later decide to place up for sale does not mean that all artists should have the ability to market themselves-- which is strengthened by copyright-- stripped away. You made a choice-- allow other artists to make that same choice for themselves.

Being inspired, at least in my opinion, is very different than printing off an image-- adding a few strokes of paint-- and then calling it your own. Furthermore, if inspiration is the issue I fail to see why artists, such as Prince, Fairey, and Garnett, fail to collaborate with owners of the images they appropriate. In fact, both Prince and Fairey have downplayed the importance of the 'inspiring' image after being exposed. This has nothing to do with inspiration if you crack the heart of it.

Again-- the issue of copyright infringement does not become a big issue until money is involved”¦ and in most cases lots of money. If you want to try and paint a copyright protected image in the same way as the artist who created the work go ahead-- just be careful not to exhibit that image for profit.

Byron O'Neal
I think this is a great discussion. My issue with how you have presented your argument is putting copyright into a bubble. It is a dynamic system as is the case in all forms of law. Our legal process works on a case by case basis, let's examine new forms of interpretation as they occur and hammer out what make sense as the dynamic process of art evolves.

The examples you've sighted aren't wholly taking into account the specific process each artist used to create that piece. What you have suggested to the right of each piece as "de-appropriation" is rather extreme when not viewed individually. Clearly, Garrett painted the piece and had to appropriate the materials with which to do so with a measure of skill. A novice could not produce that. It is visually distinct and removed from the original source material which is clearly photojournalistic in intent. The Prince collage is outrageous. This is a clear case of using someone else's work for profit and is why we have copyright laws in place. That's less than 10 percent changed from the original, and the photographer should be compensated. Fairey's interpretation of Obama is nothing like the original in terms of intent or process. He uses many composite stencil layers to create each piece, cut by hand, and uses spray paint. I've followed this case from the beginning and originally the photographer had no issue with Fairey interpreting the original photograph. As you say, it becomes as issue of how much money is involved.

Your stance puts you in a category never likely to get sued for infringement. I have no issue with that but for those that want to push the envelope and risk it, let them do so. In the long run, I think this makes our copyright system stronger as it is vetted over time.

Thanks for bringing this issue up. There is no set percent for what equals infringement or not. If 1 percent is recognizable it could be infringement. The percent factor is a myth Byron.
The artist should push the boundaries of law when needed. But these people mentioned are not rebels by any means. They are professional gallery represented artists who earn a living selling art. They should know the law better than anyone. I personally think that some of them fly in the face of the law so that they can attract press.
Crafted pr stunt or not they don't stand well on moral grounds. Not mentioning references until after being exposed does not help their case any. In copyright violation issues that is what irks artists and photographers. With Cariou vs. Prince the photographer was more upset that Prince refused to respond to him or credit him.
Joy's painting took skill but I don't understand why she felt she had to use that image instead of using a friend to model the same pose or painting from her mind after the photograph inspired her. There are thousands of images like that online that are free to use. The fair use defense only works if you are commenting socially on the image used or making a parody of it so using an obscure image that is nowhere near iconic either means the artist is foolish or thinks viewers are foolish.

Re Joy's painting...if you look closely at the eyes, you can see that she actually did change the angle slightly...its not identical. I think she did the best she could while trying to keep the feeling of the pose...I don't know if she referenced the photo or not, but just commenting on the similarity of her pose to the actual photo.

Brian Sherwin
Jacqueline, she used the photo. She ended up settling outside of court-- I believe she offered to credit Susan Meiselas and removed the image from her website. However, Joy still insists that her use of the image is transformative under the concept of 'fair use' and that it is not a derivative work.

Having been involved with debates about copyright with Joy in the past I know that she has little respect for photographers-- and has went as far as to imply that photographers owe painters a debt.

What you have to remember is that artists and photographers, such as Susan Meiselas, must protect their business. If Meiselas sat back when that issue popped up she could have risked strength of ownership later down the road if others, including corporations, decided to use the same image in some way.

With that in mind-- I highly doubt that art dealers representing Joy would be happy if an artist took photographs of her work in a gallery setting while making it clear that he or she plans to use the image for his or her own work. These contradictions-- the hypocrisy of it-- is what alarms me the most.

That said, the interesting thing about 'fair use' is that it is most likely perfectly acceptable for an artist to transform Joy's painting of Susan's photograph on the grounds of social commentary or parody in respect to those images due to how widely the issue between them has been reported. Just a thought.

Ron Grauer
Brian, I still believe you are beating a dead horse only because a lot of folks want that horse beaten.

In reference to your May 4 letter to Jacqueline; I too, have little respect for photographers as creators of art. but that is not my point.

Exactly what loss did Meiselas suffer from the painting being copied from her photo? Exactly what is she protecting other than her fear that someone else may have made a profit and she didn't? If anyone were to have bought the painting in question I would feel safe in betting any amount you can count that they would not have purchased the photo instead (given the opportunity).Regardless of how many paintings have been derived from that piece of photo paper, people who buys photos would still purchase hers. It is not as if something was taken away from anyone. Voila, the dead horse.

I must say that I would agree with you on this issue had it been a painting rather than a photo. A technician could reproduce the photo, but it would take an artist of some talent to paint an exact replica of a painting. If that artist sold that painting he would very possibly be taking money from the first creator of that hypothetical painting. In such a case the perpetrator should be sued or hired

Brian Sherwin
Ron, you said, "Brian, I still believe you are beating a dead horse only because a lot of folks want that horse beaten."

I've been deeply involved with debates over copyright since 2005. I will continue to write in defense of copyright as long as there are groups that have the goal of making copyright weak-- and there are several.

I would say that Susan was defending her intentions as well. Susan risked a lot to take that photograph-- a danger that Joy has probably never experienced in the comfort of her NY studio. Furthermore, the fact that you don't think harm was done does not change current law or the rights that artists, photojournalists, and others have within copyright at this time.

You say, "I must say that I would agree with you on this issue had it been a painting rather than a photo. A technician could reproduce the photo, but it would take an artist of some talent to paint an exact replica of a painting. If that artist sold that painting he would very possibly be taking money from the first creator of that hypothetical painting. In such a case the perpetrator should be sued or hired"

And that is exactly why you should be standing up for the rights of photographers when their work is infringed upon. It is a delicate balance-- if, for example, Prince had won over Cariou it would have opened the doors further for painters to have their work used with minimal alteration. One step closer to Walmart using any image they find for $1 prints.

This is an issue that many artists don't see when debating about copyright. If wide interpretation of 'fair use' becomes the standard it harms ALL copyright owners-- not just photographers... not just major media. It would harm painters as well-- at least those who desire to market their art and to secure their creative intentions.

Ron Grauer
Brian, I believe you are sincere in your efforts to generally protect copyright law. My point is, and so far you said nothing that changes my feeling about our discussion, that, unless there is auditable evidence that some damage was inflicted due to the fact that someone copied someone else's art, there should be no legal action.

Your example of a perpetrator changing a small bit of a painting and reproducing it is direct plagiarism. That would be provable theft where the artist could sue for probable lost income. The painter working from someone else's photo has not affected the photographer's income, reputation or future at all. That said, once again, as far as I'm concerned, the issue is still a dead horse. This becomes the classic "pissing match" to see who can scream the loudest or cry the longest. No loss. No lawsuit.

To be forthright, I've been a practicing, working artist since 1952, counting 2 years in the Navy as a Draftsman Illustrator 3/c in training aids at Great Lakes Naval Training Center.
Following that worked a national corporation and an ad agency as art director for five years. I operated my own design studio in Los Angeles for thirteen years, then I moved to and painted in Carmel, CA, showing at local galleries for one year, then opened my own gallery for seven more years. Due to THAT recession (mid seventies) I closed my Carmel gallery and opened an advertising agency which became the first AAAA ad agency in Monterey CA, I was CEO of the corporation and creative director. I sold my shares in the agency in 1985 to my partner.

After leaving the lucrative AD Agency I worked as a freelance illustrator for a period and then, gradually returned, to full time fine art, where I am still working today. I believe I have had enough experience in the art field to say, once more, unequivocally, that unless there is real damage; financial loss, or slanderous damage to reputation, or out and out theft (direct plagiarism, copying and claiming authorship) there is no justification for legal action involving copyright and that such legal action should be eliminated from the law to avoid hundreds (thousands?) of frivolous lawsuits that are essentially ego trips

Brian Sherwin
I'm not really suggesting that people should file a lawsuit over every act of infringement. In minor situations a cease-and-desist letter to open up dialogue can be a good route to take. It depends on how the copyright owner feels about it I suppose.

What bothers me is the efforts that I know some artists-- specifically those who have been exposed for infringement and not giving credit where credit is due-- have made against strong copyright. In fact, I would not be so vocal if it were not for specific artists pushing against copyright as a whole.

I've interviewed enough art law professionals to know the implications of weak copyright. Sure, it may help the practice of some artists-- but it would open up a world of trouble for other artists as well as for artists who seem to want wide interpretations of 'fair use' to be the standard.

Maybe it is because they are not thinking ahead... maybe it is because they want to cash in now... I don't know.

Maria Brophy
I've been working with artists for years, and I can't count how many times I've had an emotional discussion with an artist who felt that their work was "stolen" from them and being sold or misrepresented.

It's a very emotional thing - working very hard to create your own style and image only to have a person or company take that which you took years to develop, re-create it, and sell it commercially.

I always recommend this to artists who are wanting to "borrow" from another: Get permission. Share in the profits. Be open. If someone doesn't want you to take their artwork (or photos) and call it your own, then don't.

It's just not ethical to reap the financial or other rewards without sharing with the original creator. (The word is greed.)

Always practice the golden rule.

Ron Grauer
Maria, I love and try very hard to live by the Golden Rule. You must live in a rough neighborhood. I've been in the art biz for fifty some years, know hundreds of artists, some renown, have never heard a soul mention being plagiarized or ripped off by anyone except the occasional foolish galleries.

Maria Brophy
Ron, where's your neighborhood? I'm moving in!

Just kidding. I connect with artists all over the world, not just here in Southern California where I live.

I'm glad that you have never heard of anyone being plagiarized. Maybe you hang out in better circles than I do! It's a hot topic that I come across often.

My husbands art is plagiarized continually by other artists. He never complains about it, though

His thinking is this: If I've influenced someone to want to paint, and they use my art as a learning tool, then I've done something good.

And I love that generous thinking.

However, just last week I had to shut down a gallery from Laguna Beach, who was selling my husbands art on prints, without permission.

Inspiration is one thing - taking the art and selling it is another.

I'm not sure I understand where the line should be drawn. I would like to better understand the position of those who think that we shouldn't control our copyrights.

Or those who think that we can all take someone else's art and use it as our own, without sharing in the compensation or being upfront about who the originator was. Maybe there are some rules that flow in between the extremes.

I truly want to understand this....

Maria, my feeling is it always comes down to the almighty dollar (which I find sad)...and then there are those artists that think they own a technique because they spent hours inventing it themselves, while another artist in, lets say, Australia, decides to paint the same way and maybe even the same subject...I have seen this and heard the back and forth accusations...that is sad too. I don't understand why some artist are so possesive of their technique. Ok, maybe it took hours of blood sweat and tears in the studio...but what I have learned from life, is that true living is in the travels, not the destination. I am with your husband on this one. Most copy-catters are no where near reaching a perfect technique least the ones I have seen. There will always be those that want to ride the coat tails of the successful. I do believe in copyright laws...just think we have to check ourselves, to make sure we are not persecuting for the wrong reasons ($). Lawyers love nothing more than to convince you that "you have a case here". Lawyers care nothing for the art and usually not the ethics of it either. One opinion.

ron grauer
Jacqueline, Amen! Well said. I'll vote for you anyday. Ron Grauer

I don't think copyright puts anyone in a healthy headspace about culture. It sets up a false conception of culture as something that can be cut up into little pieces that can be owned and it denies a fundamental fact of creative life: we all imitate to innovate. New culture MUST draw from old in order for it to be able to communicate.

Recently I had an encounter with funerary art that brought my ideas about copyright and free culture to a new place. I shared images and thoughts here:

ron grauer
Gwenn. you are a breath of fresh air in this smoggy series of blogs on copyright. Thank you, beaucoup.

Thank you Ron!

So should I run for Premier or Priminister??? ; )
Thank you.

Ron Grauer
Jacqueline, Makes no difference, you're my kinda gal. RonG

Brian Sherwin
Some thoughts-- technique can't be copyrighted... ideas can't be copyrighted either.

A painting of a dog balancing a red ball on his head can be copyrighted-- that does not mean that the artist can go after, from a legal standpoint, every artist who paints a dog balancing a red ball on his head.

With that in mind-- if another artist paints the same dog line-for-line, if you will,-- as in used the other artists painting as a 'guide'-- balancing a blue ball the artist who painted the dog with the red ball may have a valid reason to pursue a copyright infringement lawsuit if the other image is being sold in mass.

This is a basic example. Furthermore, I'd stress that copyright actually stimulates creativity. I'd rather see a plethora of images like that instead of the same dog balancing the same ball over and over again created by different artists. In that sense, copyright as it stands pushes artists who would otherwise 'borrow', so to speak, to go further with the image they have in mind. That is... if they acknowledge copyright.

Think of it this way-- if copyright did not exist any painting that is widely successful would be duplicated. In time it would be difficult to know who created what, when, and why. To borrow a word from Ron-- that would make art culture "smoggy" in my opinion. That is why I've suggested in the past that copyright secures the art market as we know it. Especially in the world of today and the ease in which images can be copied and distributed.


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