It is good to try to get my head around the subjects of appropriation, mediation and remixing. I start with a view that the current copyright laws give too much ownership to that which has been captured. I put two riders on this. One is I know it is quite difficult to pursue copyright action. Two is I need to recognise there is a cost to the producer to make their work and this has to somehow be recognised. In this digital age once something is digitised it is very hard to stop it being used in all sorts of unexpected ways. One way to avoid that misuse is not to put it up in digital form.
Examples of the problem help.
This is a photograph of a still life by Sharon Core that I saw last week in Madrid. It is a wonderful work as Sharon grows the flowers herself, constructs the props and arrives at this magical moment. Seen live they are so good I wanted to go and touch the flowers and smell them. Sharon is reproducing still life images from famous paintings from the past. She does not put up any reference to that work with her photograph. When asked she said she sees her work as an original piece of photography albeit inspired by something else. I am comfortable with what she is doing but I am sure there are many people who would not be.
I am interested to know what the status of this image is. For my project ‘The Truth & Beauty of Me’ I am taking self portraits for inclusion in the work. I conceived this shot last week at the William Klein show at PhotoEspaña in Madrid last week. On the wall behind me is an image of Klein’s and I inserted myself in front of the image holding a folio provided by a colleague to connect me with the walker behind me. Another colleague took the shot with my camera.
We were free to take photographs without any constraints. We were not informed of any restrictions on the use of the photographs we took. I will always be happy to make reference to the William Klein element of this image. However, if this image were to become famous there is a question as to whose image it is and how the rights are shared around.
Had I known I was doing mediation this week I could have asked William for his opinion on the matter.
On a related matter I heard Tim Berners Lee talk about inventing the world wide web and making it freely available to the world. IBM, military and others were keen to buy it and own it but Tim felt it was for mankind to use as was seen fit. By doing so the world wide web grew faster and more freely than would have been the case. We have not stopped seeing efforts by others to try to own it as companies like Google, Amazon and Apple increase their control of it. Tim invented the world wide web but chose to give it away rather than make a personal fortune from it.