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[teacherartexchange] Copyright Issue - Fair Use Article


From: Harold Olejarz (holejarz_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Sat Apr 08 2006 - 07:44:13 PDT


Several times we have discussed copyright issues and this seems like a
good article to add to the mix:

Below is a brief statement about the 66 page report

Copyright, Fair Use, and the New Borrowers
by Herb Tam

Concurrent with the explosion of sophisticated methods of
appropriation in visual art, music, and most other artistic genres is
a mounting confusion regarding America’s fair use laws for artistic
pursuits. Responding to the situation, New York University's Brennan
Center for Justice has recently released a report documenting how and
when artists are protected by the country's fair use laws. [download
the report - PDF] - or order a free copy.

Add appropriation to the list of artmaking strategies prevalent enough
to be considered canonized. Ever since Marcel Duchamp assigned a
urinal to be a work of art in 1917, artists have continually
challenged concepts of originality and authorship. In the process,
they have internalized the use of pre-existing material, weaving it
into the fabric of contemporary artmaking. Now a new generation of
borrowers like Nate Lowman, Nancy Drew, Eric Doeringer, Paul Pfeiffer,
and many others freely take or copy from popular culture (including
art history) for a variety of expressive reasons. Appropriation has
thus grown from an isolated movement associated with artists like
Sherrie Levine and Richard Prince who rose to prominence in the '80s
to a paradigm of artmaking, much like the way conceptual strategies
have become so engrained in current art practice. And just as
photography has become the new reality in painting, so borrowing is
the new creativity in artmaking in general.

Given the resurgence of appropriation-based work, it is timely that
New York University's Brennan Center for Justice recently issued its
status report on copyright laws in the current cultural climate.
Titled Will Fair Use Survive? Free Expression in the Age of Copyright
Control, its conclusions, while grimly stated, actually offer some
legal elbow room for contemporary artists (not to mention hip-hop
producers and documentary filmmakers) whose work depends on
appropriation. In a cut 'n paste, information-based culture where
sharing is becoming an ideal (think and intellectual
ownership is being questioned, what do copyright laws have to say
about the practices of those artists mentioned above?

First, a few brief notes on fair use and copyright law. To quote the
Brennan Center report, "Copyright law gives authors, artists, and
musicians"or the companies they work for "the 'exclusive right' to
reproduce, distribute, and perform their works, or to allow others,
usually for a fee, to do so. But fair use is an exception to this
monopoly control. It allows anyone to copy, publish, or distribute
partsâ€"sometimes even allâ€"of a copyrighted work without permission,
for purposes such as commentary, news reporting, education, or
scholarship." [read on...]

Harold Olejarz
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