Warhol Foundation and Copyright Protection

Thoughtful article in Wired by Stanford law professor Lawrence Lessig on the Warhol Foundation and their stringent guidelines for the use of Warhol’s art by artists, scholars, and commerce. Of note:

Rabid intellectual property protectionism – IP extremism – is so rampant that if the foundation demanded that future Warhols pay for permission to build on Warhol’s art, most people wouldn’t even notice the hypocrisy.

On a slightly different note . . .

As many of you know, I am greatly concerned when artists go to extreme measures to “protect” distribution of their images. I’m most appalled by giant “copyright” signs on top of online images. Can’t think of a worse presentation of artwork. Can you imagine this from Picasso?

What say you?
Lessig has many good arguments. I’m sure you could come up with an equal number of your own for the other side.

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3 comments to Warhol Foundation and Copyright Protection

  • I recently attended a seminar on legal issues for artists. Not surprisingly, copyright issues dominated our discussion. Everyone had concerns about protecting their own work and questions regarding what could and couldn’t be used from other copyrighted works. The ArtBizBlog led me to the Creative Commons website. I created a CC license for my own blog. This way I can protect my images from commercial and derivitive use(just can’t go there yet) but can allow my works to be freely distributed as long as the user credits me as the artist. It seems like a nice way to go about business.

  • In response to Lessig, what would you suggest to protect our work from international theft? I don’t know if you saw the recent article in ArtCalendar (Jan 2006) where a friend of Robert Genn stumbled across replicas of his paintings on sale on a chinese website called arch-world. This site was offering small giclees or photocopies for up to $46. Robert was shocked since no-one had asked him and no royalty cheques ever came his way! He followed up of this to determine The People’s Republic of China Copyright Law appears to allow the right “to use our stuff until such time that we ask them not to”. “The website states that they cannot contact all the artists. It says if you come across your own work and would like it removed, they will remove it within 24hrs and compensate you “reasonably according to the usage” up to the time of removal.”" Genn asked for removal and at the time of writing the ArtCalendar article (more than 24hrs later)-his 120 images were still there. For updates on this story, and a list of the 2800 artists on the Arch-World website go to http://www.painterskeys.com/clickbacks/Chinese-list.asp. Their URL is http://www.arch-world.cn/. Therefore, since even small images without copyright on them can be reproduced without your permission I feel it is better to have the word “copyrighted” written on the art work-as discretly as possible. As of writing this, an article in the February issue of Artist’s Magazine addressed this and I am now looking into digital watermarking which cannot be seen but can be tracked- however since watermarks aren’t visible, images can still be duplicated. (www. digimarc.com, http://www.verisign.com). This is notorization is not free! As artists we need to have are images out there but not easily plagiarized. Therefore, my idea is to blend the word “copyrighted” into your art (not just layer it on top since this is easy to remove) in a subtle way so the viewer is not disturbed by its presence. This method is free (you do it yourself) and makes rip-offs much more complicated hopefully putting off the would-be thief.

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