[NetBehaviour] Cariou vs. Prince: THE COPYRIGHT BUNGLE

Rob Myers rob at robmyers.org
Fri Apr 1 17:09:35 CEST 2011

Really good. Do read:

by Joy Garnett


"As is well-known, the artist Richard Prince has lost his copyright
infringement suit to the photographer Patrick Cariou [see Artnet News,
March 21, 2011]. The decision is now pending an appeal. The news has
prompted heated commentary by almost everyone, including copyright
maximalists, photographers, collage artists, painters who use
appropriated imagery, New York dealers and “open source” mavens. IP
lawyers have written boilerplate statements, typically devoid of any
nuance or even the most basic understanding of the visual arts. Artists
and photographers who either bear Prince a personal grudge, or else find
his and others’ methods of appropriation suspect, have trotted out the
usual platitudes: "lazy" "thief" "millionaire." In fact, one would think
from reading the comments sections of art blogs that Prince’s great
crime was in being successful, and that copyright is a convenient tool
for redistributing some of his wealth.

But copyright law is not about generating or artificially leveraging
artists’ income. It is certainly not about redistributing deserved or
undeserved wealth. Copyright is about regulating mass production. Its
roots are in late 17th- and early 18th-century publishing and the
globalization of the printing press (cf: Statute of Anne, ca. 1709).
Long before digital technologies changed the game plan, copyright became
a way to deal with the new global mass culture..."

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