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[BKARTS] Copyright Law



There appears to be a great deal of confusion over just what copyright law permits and prohibits, namely the concept of "fair use."  One poster expressed her concern that one might not be able to quote or footnote a work.  Nothing could be further from the truth--as long as the quote etc. is attributed, there is no prohibition under U.S. copright law. 

As far as the comments that "powerful corporate lawyers" are expanding copyright protection too far; well that arguement may have some merit, but not in the copyright context--it is in the patent arena that the fiercest battles are being waged.  Those who wish their works to be available for derivative works by others don't have to copyright what they do. However, saying that one has some overarching creative claim to take whatever anyone else has created and use it for their own ends is absurd.  It is like saying to the man who has just built his house with his own hands: "I like your roof, I think I'll take it if you don't mind."  As The United States Supreme Court put it in Mazer v. Stein, 347 U.S. 201, 219 (1954): 

"The economic philosopy behind the clause empowering Congress to grant patents and copyrights is the conviction that the encouragement of individual effort by personal gain is the best way to advance public welfare through the talents of authors  and inventors in "Science and useful Arts."  Sacrificial days devoted to such creative activities deserve  rewards commensurate with the services rendered."  

Regarding Mr. Chapman's statements: 

<<The reduction to absurdity that underlies the position that art is
created 'ex- nihlo' is exposed by our ability to know exactly what we
mean. The problem is that understanding a language, even an artistic
one, is insufficient. We must have negotiable means to use the language
through which understanding is transmitted or that language atrophies.
Because no one needs permission to understand the language they are
situated in it is permission itself that becomes, simply, that which
needs to be negotiated and 'grasped.' Knowing when we're infringing on
private languages and symbols is never easy; can I talk about Mickey
Mouse after my vacation is over- can I write about him in a hand made
book I intend to distribute as a gift to my family? The list
demonstrates to me that legislation currently is going entirely the
wrong way because most lawyers are deaf to the old distinction between
'mention' and 'use' preferring to register medium rather than message
and ownership over intent. Perhaps someone on the list can describe the
legal continuum of permissiveness towards corporately owned brands and
images as they relate to their use in the construction of hand made and
coterie published art objects?

I would love to know what the law says>>

I have two comments: First, perhaps you should find out "what the law says" before making derogatory comments about what lawyers are "deaf" to.  Secondly, you are conflating trademark law (which protects indicia of a company or product) and copyright, which protects the work of "authors".   You cannot copyright a trademark (however, Mickey Mouse is a character and is thus copyrightable).  As Andy Warhol's ouvre famously demonstrates, the appropration of trademarks into artwork does not implicate trademark law because (one assumes) the art work is not being used to sell competing products.  Put another way, the Campbell's Soup painting did not violate trademark law because it was not on a can of soup.  This is of course a very simplified explanation, but it points out a common misconception.  

For a brief synopsis of copyright, take a look at the Library of Congress copyright site--it is in plain English and is quite good: http://www.loc.gov/copyright/

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