IMPORTANT

From the always interesting Joy Garnett at NEWSgrist:

THE CASE FOR APPROPRIATION

a panel moderated by Joy Garnett

with Rob Storr, Virginia Rutledge and Oliver Wasow

Presented by BFA Visual & Critical Studies, SVA, Feb 16, 2012

http://newsgrist.typepad.com/underbelly/2012/02/introduction-to-the-case-for-appropriation.html – an important conversation on appropriation in art. Check back often, as she will post the links to the SVA recorded video, which they will make available soon on their Vimeo and iTunesU sites. 

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Righthaven, LLC losing repeatedly in court

Boy, it would be nice to see the notorious copyright troll, Righthaven, LLC, put down for good. For now, I suppose, it is enough that they keep losing in court.

Righthaven’s standing to file copyright suits challenged 

By (contact)
11 August 2011, 1:55 a.m.

Las Vegas copyright lawsuit filer Righthaven LLC has been lying to a federal judge as it tries to avoid the consequences of its lawsuits, defense attorneys charged Wednesday.

For more information about Righthaven, LLC, Wired Magazine has done a number of good articles about them.
http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/tag/righthaven/ 

If you’ve ever received a DMCA takedown notice, or just want information about how to protect yourself, here is a good website with lots more information:
http://righthavenlawsuits.com/ 

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Hey, I’ve been interviewed.

Marquand Books in Seattle, WA interviewed me for their blog last week. Here is the post:

 

A CONVERSATION WITH GINA GLASCOCK-BROZE

Posted on July 13, 2011 | Interviews | Leave A Comment

Gina Glascock-Broze has worked for more than five years in rights and reproductions with local, national, and international artists, studios, galleries, rights agencies, and museums as a project manager of artist copyright permissions and photographic material for various clients, including non-profit groups, museums, and publishing houses. She is interested in the many complexities of copyright law, gardening, and making pickles. She blogs here: https://smartrights.wordpress.com/

 

© Robert Wade Photography

http://marquandbooks.com/blog/a_conversation_with_gina_glascock-broze/

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Monkey takes photo, TechDirt receives take down notice

While this is an extreme example of the craziness of copyright law, it is a very good discussion by TechDirt editor, Mike Masnick, about what is and what isn’t copyrightable. The comments especially illustrate the confusion that copyright creates. It is also just hilarious that Caters News Agency is trying to issue a take down notice to TechDirt, by saying they represent the photojournalist whose camera was borrowed by a macaque monkey, who took a self-portrait. I love when the agency says, “regardless of the issue of who does and doesn’t own the copyright – it is 100% clear that the copyright owner is not yourself”. Right, as though the monkey is the copyright holder… Total silliness.  I’ve put the articles in the order they appear on TechDirt.

Monkey Business: Can A Monkey License Its Copyrights To A News Agency?

Monkeys Don’t Do Fair Use; News Agency Tells Techdirt To Remove Photos

Can We Subpoena The Monkey? Why The Monkey Self-Portraits Are Likely In The Public Domain

Original article from the Daily Mail: Cheeky monkey! Macaque borrows photographer’s camera to take hilarious self-portraits

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Dancing with Copyright Law

A confusing Artist vs. Artist case that has been playing out in the legal system in Seattle, has been settled for an undisclosed amount of money. You can read the details of the case here and here, but the gist of it is: Seattle photographer Mike Hipple was sued by Seattle sculptor Jack Mackie for copyright infringement for a photo that Hipple took of the feet of a woman dancing on Mackie’s 1982 artwork Dancers’ Series: StepsHipple, perhaps unwittingly, posted the photo on a stock photo website. Within two days of it being posted on a commercial site Mackie sent a take-down notice to the stock photo site, and then sued the photo site and Hipple for infringement.

There is a lot of anger and confusion being bantered around about this case – most of it is related to fundamental misunderstandings of copyright protection and copyright law. An especially angry example can be found here: http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20110702/01433514945/another-fair-use-debacle-photographer-settles-bogus-copyright-threat-artist.shtml.

I’m not a lawyer (see disclaimer here), but here are my thoughts on this case:

1). Copyright is the exclusive right of the artist that created the artwork. One of the things that people don’t tell you about copyright if you are an artist – if you don’t defend your copyright in all minor cases, that can come back to haunt you if you try to defend yourself against any future case of infringement. This means, the court can take into account your past laxity with regard to your copyright – just as they can take into account your past aggressiveness in defending your copyright. Don’t hate on the artist that defends him or herself.

2). If copyright law were clear and logical the case would have gone like this. Hipple and stock photo company receive the take down notice. Photo gets taken down. Hipple says, “gee, sorry – I didn’t realize this was infringement.” Case closed. Should Makie been able to sue Hipple for $60K when Hipple made $60 total on the stock photo? Probably not, but welcome to the legal system and copyright law, where nothing is black and white and lawyers make a crap load of money off these type of cases.

3). Fair Use is confusing, and if you are thinking of using it as a defense, you should speak to a lawyer first. If you use other peoples work in your work, you should already have spoken to a lawyer. Anytime you use Fair Use and Commercial Use in the same sentence you should immediately speak to a lawyer.

4). Copyright infringement is a civil not criminal crime. Two parties disagree about whether or not something is copyright infringement, one sues the other. Unfortunately in civil law, to work out your difference of opinion with someone, the only way is to sue, go before a jury or judge, and/or settle. Guess who is the only winner here – that’s right, the lawyers. One artist suing another artist. Boy, that just doesn’t make a lot of sense. But again, copyright has nothing to do with sense. What we should all stand up and rally against are major corporations who use their high paid, high powered, in house legal teams to sue individuals who do not have the means to defend themselves. These individuals often have to settle with the major corporations, even when the individual has a very good chance at winning the legal argument. It comes down to not having the money to pay their lawyers to sustain their defense against the onslaught that these major corporation legal teams can dish out. And the loser in these cases is all of us, because all these cases weaken the original intent of copyright law. As this great article in the Economist makes clear, “Copyright was originally the grant of a temporary government-supported monopoly on copying a work, not a property right.” These major corporations want exactly that – copyright as a property right, in perpetuity and exclusively. With each case that an individual has to settle because of lack of money to defend themselves, copyright takes one more step in the wrong direction.

5). Public art is owned by the public entity which purchased the artwork. Copyright to pubic art is not normally transferred to the same entity. Just because an artwork is in the “public view” (outside) or is owned by the public, does not mean that the copyright is also owned by the public. Again, copyright is an exclusive right of the artist. Unless the copyright is formally transferred in the contract that was used to commission the artwork, the copyright is owned by the artist.

6). And finally, “ignorance of the law excuses no man; not that all men know the law; but because ’tis an excuse every man will plead, and no man can tell how to confute him.” John Selden (1584-1654), posthumously published in Table Talk, 1689.

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Origami and Art: a discussion of transformation and copyright

In a chilling lawsuit, origamist Robert Lang is suing artist Sarah Morris for copyright infringement for making paintings based on his origami designs… Originally posted by Joy Garnett of NEWSgrist, this lawsuit really brings to light the confusion and difficulty in establishing what is derivative and what is transformative. Is the art of origami the design and diagram of the flat piece of paper – or is it the end product – the 3-D crane or cup or lotus flower that results after painstakingly folding along the lines. Similarly, if a Sarah Morris bases her paintings on the design of the flat origami paper, and, as noted by Ms. Garnett “used them comically as compositional devices for flat paintings, the purpose of which is to comment ironically on the nature of flatness in painting,” are her paintings merely a derivative of a 5 x 5in piece of paper? In the art world I think it would be difficult to argue that what Sarah Morris is doing in her paintings isn’t truly transformational. But the art world isn’t where this lawsuit will be decided – it will be decided in court. And here is where I think the big chill comes in: Basic disagreements about the fundamental nature of art, disagreements that have been ongoing for thousands of years, are legalistically flattened in these type of copyright lawsuits. Will copyright be given the power to define what art is? Gee… I really hope it doesn’t get the chance.

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Hear ye hear ye, AAMD takes a fair-use stand

The Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD) has released (Jan. 2011) a statement of policy for member organizations  with regard to the use of thumbnail images of artworks in museum collections. This has been a hotly debated issue in the museum world – and though it has been a long time in coming, kudos to the AAMD for taking a stand on fair-use. This will certainly make it easier, especially for smaller museums without access to legal council, to negotiate with large rights organizations and reduce confusion about copyright.

download the policy here: AAMD Fair Use Guidelines – and can also be found online here: http://aamd.org/papers/documents/AAMDFairUseGuidelinesHLP1-10-11_2_.pdf

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