Copy, Paste

This New York Times article is more based in visual art than literature, but it’s a fascinating look at what’s going on with copyright issues. One quote that struck me:

“For the generation that I spend my days with, there’s not even any ideological baggage that comes along with appropriation anymore,” said Stephen Frailey, an artist whose work has used appropriation and who runs the undergraduate photography program at the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan. “They feel that once an image goes into a shared digital space, it’s just there for them to change, to elaborate on, to add to, to improve, to do whatever they want with it. They don’t see this as a subversive act. They see the Internet as a collaborative community and everything on it as raw material.”

I see a lot of truth in that. Images get passed around sites like Pinterest or Tumblr, maybe edited, maybe without a link to the source material. I’m sure that’s frustrating to artists (you want to be credited for your work) but a lot of times things are passed around because people enjoy them and are inspired by them in some way. If we cut off the possibility of sharing, does that hinder potential creativity? And what can artists do with these images? What kind of value needs to be added to a image for it to be new and fresh in some way, so the second artist has made it his/her own? Lawyer Daniel Brooks argues:

It can’t just be random, that he ‘liked it,’ because there’s no practical boundary to that.”

It’s a hard look at what the design and creation process actually is. Is it wrong for an artist to include something because he “likes” it or because he finds that it adds an aesthetic value to his work without it necessarily commenting on the original? Part of me wants to allow that kind of creation process, but another agrees with Brooks–it’s a slipper slope for the people who are creating these images in the first place.

The whole article is worth checking out. I’m very curious to see how copyright law will address these issues, but I don’t think anything will be cleared up anytime soon.

0 thoughts on “Copy, Paste

  1. superwiseman says:

    You hit the point exactly and I share the same sentiments. Artists should produce their works because they love what they do, recognition never comes from wanting, it comes from doing good work. If you do enough good work, you will get recognise, and people cannot steal everything from you.

    Copyright kills creativity and innovation.

    (if someone took my work and publicise it and make it popular, I don’t care if they take the credit for it. If my work helped other people, and made them happy, if my work changes people for the better, why does credit matter?)

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