It should come as no surprise that Shephard Fairey’s poster counts as fair use. Jonathan Melber lays down some more reasons why the AP’s case against him is groundless. [via]:
And the other “fair use” factors? Well, Fairey didn’t harm the commercial value of Garcia’s photograph–he vastly increased it. Danziger Projects, a contemporary gallery in New York City, is selling a limited edition of the original picture, signed by Garcia, for $1200 each. (The Museum of Fine Arts in Houston has already bought one for its permanent collection.)
So why is the AP acting like it has a case? Because juries are unpredictable, copyright law is confusing and defending a copyright lawsuit is extremely expensive. So powerful companies like the AP don’t necessarily care whether they would win. They know that most artists cannot afford to hire lawyers, and that even the ones who can will probably prefer to settle out of court than get dragged through three years of litigation.
Shephard Fairey has donated all revenues from his project (as far as I’ve heard) to charities.
Certain smarty pants (I’m looking at you James Boyle) are stepping up to write accessible, interesting, and essential works on the depressing state of copyright law/file sharing/free culture. Things are not good, and everyone should know not just the base headlines “Teenager sued by RIAA for $15,000“—but the facts. I now refer to Boyle:
It is not merely supposed to produce incentives for innovation by rewarding creators, though that is vital. Intellectual property is also supposed to create a feedback mechanism that dictates the contours of information and innovation production. It is not an overstatement to say that intellectual property rights are designed to shape our information marketplace. Copyright law is supposed to give us a self-regulating cultural policy in which the right to exclude others from one’s original expression fuels a vibrant public sphere indirectly driven by popular demand. At its best, it is supposed to allow a decentralized and iconoclastic cultural ferment in which independent artists, musicians, and writers can take their unique visions, histories, poems, or songs to the world—and make a living doing so if their work finds favor. [via Boyle, The Public Domain]
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It’s a little pricey, but I’m looking for a sponsor to the 1st Annual Conference on Nanotechnology Law, Regulation and Policy. I think D.C. is a wonderfully grey town with lots of people wearing suits. Anyone want to help me out?
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