..on Wed, Jul 15, 2009 at 10:20:46PM +1200, Douglas Bagnall wrote:
Bronwyn Holloway-Smith wrote:
Does exclusive possession not have direct ties
with copyright though? If
there is no control over copies, then that opens the floodgates to
uncontrolled multiples, driving costs of artworks down due to their lack of
Yeah, but it doesn't. There are more Mona Lisa reproductions in the
world than there are people. Copying increases the value of the
original by publicising it. This shouldn't necessarily follow when it
comes to digital art, but in practice it does because the art world has
an interest in keeping it so. They/we just substitute "authorised" for
The Mona Lisa was painted in a time where artists were almost entirely
commissioned by the church or the odd noble to produce work. Copyright as a
concept wasn't present then, as a natural right. As far as I understand it,
artist rights were within the scope of individual contracts they had with the
person paying them, perhaps more like the current British 'work for hire'
automatic transfer of rights. Anyway, copyright or not, the question is not
whether we can copy the Mona Lisa now but whether Leonardo's contemporaries
could've done so and got away with it. I sincerely doubt it!
There are copying rights licenses that give the right to copy to the user, and
those that don't.
After a certain period of time copyright expires allowing work made now to enjoy
infinite reproduceability later, regardless of restrictions outlined in the
license. This or course brings its own kettle of lawyers: is time of death or
some abitrary number of years the guide?
Relatedly, the big collecting institutions selectively and effectively
extend their control over images well past copyright through the use of
contracts. For example, you might not be allowed to see images of
tupuna until you have agreed to conditions of use set by the descendants.
Indeed, this is a problem and should be reviewed, ie the case with the
grandchild of James Joyce defaulting all control over his work to him such that
universities are being sued for citations.
Nabakov's son is another example of post-humus contracts being exploited for
There is an
interesting article on "Life After Copyright" here for any
Contracts could also avert most of his worries. I think the point of
being a copyright anarchist (which I am not quite) is not to actually
reach an end point but to engender disrespect for the institution until
people start thinking seriously about alternatives.
Also, there are plenty of big earners who's
work is still under copyright.
Warhol, Koons, and of course Hirst are still well in copyright (and the list
goes on). Hirst, particularly, has been hard-lined about claiming it, to a
Hirst is just cunning though. By making a fuss he makes sure the image
is on the news and not just on a few T shirts. Reproduction is what
made art big.
Hirst is clever like that, he needs culturally unproductive copyright models to
play against and perhaps his fuss wouldn't have the clout in a different
Reproduction has been vital to the distribution of art and its ideas, indeed. So
choose licenses for your /own/ work that encourage that. Don't choose it for
I've benefitted greatly from my own work being copied/distributed but there
simply are examples where, for a variety of reasons, it may not work for other
artists or forms of art. Some of those reasons may even be
personal/superstitious (as is the case in some indigenous cultures).
Regardless of my own beliefs in Free Software and free culture, it's simply very
hard handed to force a default of similar ideal upon other artists, let alone
abolishing copyright altogether. Some artists simply don't want their work
copied without their consent and I respect that. The advantage of copyright as a
naturally assigned right is that it gives artists room to /choose/ copying right
licenses which suit them - before you or the state chooses those rights for
Educating artists as to the benefits of pro-copy licenses is where the positive
change is to be done. Complaining about some phantom 'The Copyright System' and
vowing to abolish it is both myopic and culturally fascistic.
As my wife points out - something of a luminary on the topic of copyright in
Spanish speaking world - she wouldn't want to imagine a future where we are
fighting for the right of an artist to not /have/ to give away their work.
home: New Zealand
based: Madrid, Spain
currently: Madrid, Spain