Copyright and the fear of Goddess Anne

In a previous blog I made light of the fact I have used images from fashion magazines in my mixed media work. In actual fact it is something I take very seriously and know there is the rampant, bull raging issue of copyright associated with this act.

Making, reading about and looking at art is my life long passion. I take the idea of “artist” and the role they play in society, for one, as reflectors of the times, very solemnly. Hence my fascination with the power of popular culture and it’s definition of women.

I find it immensely disturbing that as an artist, and a female one, the vast cultural monster that produces fashion magazines is off limits as fodder to work with and comment on for fear of breaking the law of copying. Fortunately for me it is not a big deal as I don’t sell much work…yet. The point being that who cares what you do until there are vast sums of money involved i.e. Jeff Koons and Richard Prince.

I am not suggesting, for a moment, saying someones else’s work is yours or copying other’s work for the simple act of making money is ok.

Copyright law is a huge, nasty, labyrinth of a topic which is difficult for anyone to really understand. It’s not a fixed idea and not attached specifically to any one media it’s amorphous and evolving. Of course it all goes back to a woman, Queen Anne of England and was granted Royal Assent on 5 April 1710.

"The new law prescribed a copyright term of 14 years, with a provision for renewal for a similar term, during which only the author and the printers they chose to license their works to could publish the author's creations. Following this, the work's copyright would expire, with the material falling into the public domain.” 

So bored already.

Imagine all the layers of clauses and sub clauses, legal stuff and thingese precedences squishing down on top of that original law. And now we live in a time were fear of Goddess Anne rules. Where there are some pretty crazy rules and regulations quashing artistic freedom….”and it’s all about money, ain’t a damn thing funny” too right Grand Master Flash.

Despite the tedious legalese copyright law is fascinating. How did it get to be so intertwined with the do's and don’ts of making art. 

As artists with the intention of social comment and fair use of culturally bound material should we really fear the wrath of Goddess Anne?

More to follow...

Portrait from the school of John Closterman, circa 1702

Portrait from the school of John Closterman, circa 1702