Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Can Artists Grab Copyrighted Images From Google Without Permission?


Two California artists certainly believe so. According to Wired Magazine, the artistic duo, who go by the name Simmons & Burke, “googled the web, scoured fan forums and browsed Flickr accounts to round up 5,000 images for a single collage. … The digital artists, who incorporate themes of appropriation in some of their work, do not notify site operators when they grab images for use in their collages, regardless of whether the images are protected by copyright.” Hmmm.

Copyright is certainly one concern, but what about trademark, or rights or privacy? Something tells me this may not be the last we hear from this edgy duo and their legal concerns. What do you think? Via Wired Magazine.


What About Artists’ Rights? Copyright and Artistic Expression

Terry Hart, over at Copyhype, has written a must read article on the conflict between the First Amendment’s free speech clause and copyrights, particularly as to how this conflict affects artists and creative individuals.

Hart rightly summarizes, via two cases (Harper & Row v. Nation Enterprises and Eldred v. Ashcroft), how copyright law has built-in safeguards against the censoring or abridgment of speech.

First Amendment concerns are adequately addressed by “copyright’s built-in free speech safeguards.” It noted two of those safeguards: the “idea/expression dichotomy” and the doctrine of fair use. It also suggested that there are supplemental safeguards, like copyright law’s exceptions for libraries and archives.

It gets more interesting. Hart goes on to argue that although this free speech/copyright conflict has gained enough attention from legal scholars, what has not gained enough attention is how this free speech/copyright conflict affects what he calls the infringees (artists and creators), or what I call original producers.

But something is missing in the discussion about copyright and the First Amendment. For all the attention given to the First Amendment concerns of alleged infringers, there is scant attention devoted to the First Amendment concerns of infringees – artists and creators.

And it gets more interesting still. Hart goes on to argue that historically speaking, art has taken a second-class status vis-a-vis political speech, and many times this second-class status is warranted (art as entertainment for example). However, what strikes me as even more interesting is the similarities between Hart’s argument and those of David Mamet.

In many ways, the copyright incentive provides the most free method to spread new ideas. We don’t have to rely on the wealthy to fund whatever expression captures their fancy. We don’t have to rely on government to fund whatever expression it deems serves the state. Instead, we have a society where the values of artistic expression – as beauty, sublime, frivolity, or entertainment – and the value of artistic expression is determined solely by its members and the market.

Mamet argues the same thing in his most recent book, Theater. Don’t leave aesthetic sensibilities and artistic production to government funding and private donors; let the market itself regulate artistic production. This market regulation, Hart argues, is what copyright grants creators of artistic works. Hart concludes,

Any discussion of free expression rights which focuses on the rights of only one side (the alleged infringer) while ignoring the other (the infringee) is incomplete.

Kudos to Hart for writing this cutting-edge and timely article.


Violent Attacks Against Artists In Istanbul

Next time you face art opening mobs in Chelsea, be thankful you’re not being assaulted with clubs and mace. According to ArtNet News,

[l]ate Tuesday night, a violent mob attacked the “Tophane Art Walk” in what appeared to be a planned assault on Istanbul’s fledgling Tophane arts district. The mob beat visitors with clubs, assailed them with pepper spray and broke windows. Four galleries were hit successively: Elipsis, NON, Pi and Outlet.

“It was a nightmare,” Turkish artist Burak Arikan told Artnet News. “Blood was everywhere.”


Arianna Huffington on Copyright and Blogging

People like … to confuse aggregation with wholesale misappropriation, which violates copyright law. At HuffPost, aggregation goes along with a tremendous amount of original content, including original reporting and over 300 original blog posts a day. And we love it when someone links to one of our posts, or excerpts a small amount and links back to us.

I hope these words don’t come back to haunt her.  Regardless, the preceding sentence was our commentary, and we’re hyperlinking to The Guardian where her article originally appeared.


Jean-Luc Godard Weighs in On Copyright

Aoparently, French-Swiss film director Jean-Luc Godard has donated a thousand euros ($1,338)  toward the legal defense costs of a French citizen accused of downloading 13,788 MP3s.

According to Boing Boing, Godard was once quoted as saying, “It’s not where you take things from—it’s where you take them to.” Which is all fine and good, but one can certainly read Godard’s statement as a championing of transformative works rather than piracy. Things that make you go, hmmm.

Via Boing Boing.


Art Institute of Chicago Sues Engineers; Alleges Shoddy Craftsmanship

The Art Institute of Chicago is suing a London engineering firm, Ove Arup & Partners, for what it calls delays and shoddy engineering in its Modern Wing addition that opened last year.

According to the suit filed Tuesday in federal court, the museum faces $10 million in repairs and upgrades to the addition. Among the problems cited in the suit are cracks in concrete floors, condensation clouding the main vestibule glass and an air-conditioning system that can’t maintain a safe climate for artwork.

Via The Chicago Tribune.


Copyrightable Innovations Can Thrive Under a Wide Variety of Conditions


Well, the exact quote is, “[I]nnovation can thrive under a wide variety of conditions — from cutthroat competition all the way to very strong IP — depending on the particular logic of innovation in an industry.” [italics in original quote]

This is probably the smartest article I have read recently on copyright and creativity (and also perhaps because in all honesty it mirrors an argument I have made before (note in particular the second paragraph)). Kal Raustiala, a professor at UCLA Law School and the UCLA International Institute, and Chris Sprigman, a professor at the University of Virginia Law School, are guest blogging for the “paper of record,” and via a unique analysis of copyright and football (yes, pigskin Texas Longhorn football), they explain why intellectual property rights–specifically copyright–cannot be applied equally across all disciplines and industries, including the presumption that free culture is necessarily good in all realms of creative activity.

Football and pharmaceuticals are as different as music is from poetry, or computer software from architecture, or academic research from motion pictures.  All of these are creative endeavors, all of them involve innovation, but the ways in which these creators innovate, and the legal rules that best fit innovation in these fields, are all very different.  Our copyright and patent laws treat all the industries they reach virtually the same.  Yet all innovation cultures are different.

One could not agree more. Check out Raustiala and Sprigman’s article here. Hook ‘em!


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