Thursday, May 28, 2015

Appropriation art meets Instagram: Is copyright law ready?; MSNBC, 5/26/15

Christopher Buccafusco, MSNBC; Appropriation art meets Instagram: Is copyright law ready? :
"Prince is an appropriation artist; he takes other people’s works and repurposes them in new, slightly different ways. The field of appropriation art dates back to Marcel Duchamp’s Fountain, a signed and dated urinal laid flat on the ground, and it includes Sherrie Levine’s re-photographing of famous Walker Evans images. An appellate court in New York recently declared that Prince’s modifications to photographs taken by Patrick Cariou were fair use, insulating Prince from liability for copyright infringement.
In his new work, Prince isn’t borrowing from established artists—he may be borrowing from you. His new show in New York’s Frieze Art Fair includes blown up images taken (I assume, without authorization) from other people’s Instagram accounts. According to The Washington Post, Prince left the images and the usernames intact, but he substituted his own, somewhat unusual comments beneath the images.
Will the original Instagram users be upset? They might be after they hear that Prince’s works sold for $90,000 each. Will they successfully be able to sue him? Probably not.
Again, the reason why will be the fair use doctrine. Copyright law gives people rights to encourage creativity. Although copying someone else’s creative work without paying for it is often against the law, certain kinds of copying isn’t. The fair use doctrine protects some kinds of copying when doing so is beneficial to society. For example, a reviewer can reproduce a portion of a book or movie in order to criticize it."

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