Dear CRUMB list
first my thanks to Jeremy for hosting such a great discussion so far on issues of copyright in relation to works of art which exist in the network, as it were. I have learned a tremendous amount already and only wish I'd had access to this wealth of knowledge before I wrote my essay for the publication 'Public Domain' produced by SAW Video.
I received my copy of the book in the post earlier this week, and it is a beauty, if I can be so immodest. It includes insightful texts from each of the artists about their experience of using material free from copyright from the Library and Archives Canada and the effects that being permitted to use this material had on their practice. Perhaps more on that in a bit.
Meantime, I am particularly interested in Henry's illumination of the tensions between copyright and freedom of expression, and especially like his turn of phrase, that
The fixation rule is legislatorsí best attempt to date to avoid ephemeral/transient acts of creativity (whistling your own original happy tune but not recording the tune in any fixed way) being IP protected.
I wonder, and perhaps I've got this wrong, how we might then judge much of new media / net art which could easily be described by its originators (or argued by its opposing legislators?) to be ephemeral or transient, or by contrast to argue its fixity?
Is this a good loophole, or a detriment to the rights of the owners of such works (and I suppose I'm thinking here of works of web art which might be deliberately activist or deliberately using copyrighted material?)
If artists want to work deliberately in the public domain (if they want their works to be copyleft, reused, remade) could they thus only make works which could be argued to be ephemeral or transient in order to avoid anyone claiming IP protection? Or is that just a ludicrous way of looking at it?
Without tangling myself too far into knots I don't understand, I suppose I have been thinking what would have happened (to go back to Penny's post about national repositories) if the artists involved in the Public Domain project had insisted that their works be lodged in the library and archives without any donor restrictions and any limitations on reuse ... would the archives still enforce it? (Admittedly, lodging them in the archive admits they have a fixed form, but it is akin to a recording, I suppose).
Is it generally agreed, as Henry argues, that copyright is about "stimulating and supporting the creative economy"?
Thank you for your patience with my lack of knowledge in this field.
Dr. Sarah Cook
co-founder/ co-editor of CRUMB - the resource for curators of new media art - http://www.crumbweb.org
Faculty of Arts, Design and Media
University of Sunderland, UK
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