I have featured this sculpture on my blog before, but today I was looking at it with new eyes. I have been involved in CLMOOC and read Karen LaBonte's thoughtful blog post Pondering Remix. It made me think about ownership, about using other people's work with respect and about when it is appropriate and when it is not . This sculpture is itself a remix - using an actual imprint of the newspaper of the day. If you go to the photo on Flickr you can zoom in and see it in more detail.
Here is a detail - showing the back of the newspaper. Is this an infringement of copyright? The sculpture is by John Seward Johnson and I discovered he has done a similar sculpture using a Philadelphia newspaper. We walk a fine line between what is acceptable and what is not and in this litigious society there seems to be a push to claim almost anything as something to patent or copyright. I was glad that the recent court case about Stairway to Heaven resolved that Led Zeppelin did not break copyright.
Here are some of the questions Karen brought up
I'll add some of my own -
- When is it honouring someone to do something "inspired by"?
- When is it just copying?
- In an era when it is so easy to take and remix, how do we teach students the importance of supporting artists (writers, musicians...) by paying for their work?
- I heard recently that the Eiffel Tower has a copyright on any photos taken at night. Photographers who post night time shots can be sued, especially if they charge for these shots - when is something in the public really private? (an article from my friend Barb: http://artlawjournal.com/night-photos-eiffel-tower-violate-copyright/
I am all for a the concept of sharing. In fact virtually all my photos on Flickr are there with a creative commons license (I would like credit for them, though). I do think when I photograph artwork as above - how will this image be used by someone else? Will they give the artist credit along with the photographer? I would love to hear your thoughts.