David Byrne wonders about fair use

I hate the whole concept of copyright-in-perpetuity and litigation between corporate entities to protect these copyrights-in-perpetuity, to be honest.

David Byrne Journal: 5.4.06: You Belong To Me ... Would I owe the photographer? The couple? Neither? What if I made a fictional film and created a scene that recreated this tableau? Which happens all the time — DPs and directors are often “inspired” by stills and paintings.

Some of this falls under “fair use”. You are allowed, within limits, to quote things and images of people that are relevant to your “discussion” — it expands and clarifies your own work. It helps the work resonate in a deeper way. A work of art, especially given that they are unique and not mass produced, is a kind of discussion too, one might argue, so the same rules apply. A CD cover, T-shirt, poster, ad for a bank or fashion photo is not the same kind of discussion.

Robert Rauschenberg, contemporary of Warhol, eventually decided to use only his own photos in his work after he was sued for clipping out some news photos and “transferring” them to canvas as part of his hybrid paintings. These photos were considerably altered, usually degraded in the process, but it seems it was still a problem. Again, the law changes what people create.

Of course, I've never sold anything that I've made, yet, even though plenty of my images (photos, paintings, whatevers) are sprinkled around the web and in people's houses. But, truth be told, I think we, as a society, are limiting what future artists can create with our insistence upon copyright above all other rights.

David Byrne has more to say on the topic

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This page contains a single entry by Seth A. published on May 5, 2006 2:50 PM.

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