Dear Jeremy, Kailliopi and all,
i was reading this interesting thread and i can't help myself to write a little contribution (sorry if i write only now, i'm very busy with my artistic practice. i also apologize if i'll be a bit awkward in this email, quickly composed, i ask sorry by a present though.)
first of all, i'm an italian media artist, author of different projects researching radically on the idea of stealing digital data, authorship and appropriation of corporate brads, imaginaries, influence, etc.
a pretty noticeable work of mine is the Hacking Monopolism Trilogy, (done in conjunction with Alessandro Ludovico) in all the pieces of the trilogy i stole relevant data from three major internet companies and i recontextualized it for exposing the abuse and the unfair commercial exploitation of data that should be considered public or belonged to the "users".
this happened with the artworks Facebook to Facebook, Google Will Eat Itself, Amazon Noir (the last two projects have been done with a third collaborator unbermogen).
by the way, let me give an EXCLUSIVE gift to this list, here a stolen book from Amazon that haven't been ever published before, it's in a raw format directly from my secret library composed 5 years ago:
http://www.paolocirio.net/work/amazon-noir/amazon-noir-books/Offshore _The Dark-Side-of-the-GlobalEconomy-byWilliamBrittainCatlin.rtf
the others selected books published are here:
maybe in ten years from now, i'll be also able to leak the database of profiles scraped from Facebook, but so far the legal fight is too fresh. i still have 1 million pictures of 1M persons from 50 different countries downloaded from Facebook, however i bet to discuss the copyright of those images. well Facebook didn't wait long to send us letters from its lawyer, but they didn't manage to do anything on my server that is based just a few miles far from them (all the data is hosted in a server in California, cos it was faster to steal from there). as some of our Electronic Frontier Foundation's advisers inferred, for Facebook it could be too politically embarrassing to reclaim the full ownership of those images. well Facebook is quite aggressive, and they even threaten us for trademark infringement for using the word facebook in our project.
for me it's interesting these issues of geographical jurisdiction and where actually is located that data, for a such of material that flows everywhere and infinitely replicable. corporations as pirates take advantage of these characteristics of the immaterial treasure all the time.
for instance, we should take in account that, after all, both ISPs and companies that sell players for digital content benefit from the share of the pirated material, because it just increases the need for bandwidth, devices, and related stuff. for example it's quite ironic the position of Sony, which in one side would control its copyrighted content, on the other side it needs to sell more mp3 players.
such of firms have their own contradictions that they didn't manage to solve yet, and so they keep the old business model, eventually with some tricks to make more money out of it. this is my general impression.
this contradictions are also evident with internet giants as Google, Facebook, which rely on pirated content (voluntarily published by their users, and with their legal responsabilty).
by chatting with savvy IP lawyers, i often realized how many contradictions there are between local legislations and present international IP commodity trading, which became a permanent hypocrisy based on the "double standard" of piracy activities. nowadays, who can afford political lobbing and lawsuits is definitely the king of piracy.
in general there is a lack of innovation in copyright legislation, which creates just a mess with permanent debates and fights between lawyers, firms departments, legislators, and in general struggle over different way to gain revenues. it's just ridiculous that someone in Geneva at WIPO didn't clean up the mess yet with some new ideas of copyright for the digital era.
i mean, something like the deal that Amazon and Google had when they started to scan books and publish them online, they had hard time with publishers, but they finally had a deal. although they books aren't completely available for free yet, i consider that case a new way to see the content online as not just a possible uncontrolled leak of material available for pirates, but also a new way to increase revenues, if we would see the situation with business eyes.
unfortunately, who really suffers by this mess and contradictions it's the final citizen that is who is always blamed for his/her culprit!
some of these aspects were part of the Amazon Noir project. initially my idea was to focus on public library services, and stress the Fair Use legislation of public library applied to digital content. i still think that the Fair Use and the ancient idea of Public Library are the most interesting claims for anti-copyright activists.
recently, as artist i also have others concerns, like, how can i eventually sell stolen content to museums or private collectors? will i be allowed to sell such of artworks to third parties, or i'll have to pay the royalties to Amazon or Facebook? this is clearly a funny irony.
however, i like to compare my works to former artistic practices of depiction of contemporary environments, alike Andy Whorol was allowed to use logos of brands in his works, or maybe at the time corporations weren't the dominators and the legislators yet? hopefully they will never be in charge to rule the world, and i'll be able to continue my artistic practice even more freely.
On Oct 19, 2011, at 8:28 AM, jeremy wrote:
> Hi Kailliopi and all,
> My recent work concerns aspects of the questions raised:
> "In light of all these, on the one hand corporations do make commercial uses of artworks. And on the other hand, artists may make commercial use of their work. So, how can we look at the issue? Should we be abolishing the concept of copyright all together? Should there be different layers of copyright? One layer for corporations and one layer for artists? And, given that I am referring to instances of traditional visual arts, which are different from new media art, should copyright be defined different in new media art compared to traditional forms of art?"
> I have been thinking about whether a response to these sort of questions should involve engaging as much with the issue of corporate social responsibility as the questions we have been discussing about intellectual property rights.
> Extremely briefly, corporations are recognised by law as separate legal personalities. As such, it has been argued that companies have very many benefits and entitlements but that very few expectations and requirements about how they should act are imposed in return. There has been much written about whether companies should be expected to do anything other than return a profit.
> I recently read an article by Rosemary Coombe and Andrew Herman (referenced below for any who may want to know), which sets out the well known description of the way the creative commons "encourages us to understand the Web as a space where cultural creators, rather than corporations and consumers, are the principal actors in a virtuous cycle of exchange"
> Yet, interestingly and I suspect more controversially for those on this list, the authors went on to argue that this leaves unquestioned the conception that we are "first and foremost, always individuals - independent authors and cultural creators projected (but never acknowledged) as privileged Americans with indisputable First Amendment freedoms" and that this "unfettered individual appears to adopt the same limited liability, responsibility, and accountability that his corporate nemesis traditionally assumed"
> This brief account cannot do justice to the the argument by Coombe and Herman, but in this context it leads me to ask whether more attention should be given to thinking about alternative forms of personhood and the possibility of communities "characterised by social obligation rather than individual freedoms"?
> (Rosemary Coombe & Andrew Herman. ‘Rhetorical Virtues: Property, Speech, and the Commons on the World-Wide Web’ Anthropological Quarterly - Volume 77, Number 3, Summer 2004, pp. 559-574)
> --- On Mon, 10/17/11, Kalliopi Vacharopoulou <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> From: Kalliopi Vacharopoulou <[log in to unmask]>
> Subject: Re: [NEW-MEDIA-CURATING] October Theme: Copyright
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Date: Monday, October 17, 2011, 1:19 PM
> Dear all,
> I've been following with great interest the discussion and the responds
> which have been so informative!
> I would like to go back to copyright in general, with an example of more
> traditional forms of visual arts and bringing a couple of examples of
> lawsuits into it too.
> I used to work in an art picture library (researching the educational use of
> digital images), where I understood how image licensing and copyright
> worked. It did make perfect sense: publishers, advertisers and the media
> paid fees to get a license to reproduce a picture of an artwork. These were
> profitable companies that could afford the fees and would make further
> profit from using the said artworks. Individual researchers might had to pay
> a fee for publishing an image in academic and scholarly publications. A
> great proportion of the money would go back to the artists or their estates
> or the museums and galleries holding the artworks. The picture library was
> also operating an artists' collecting society, representing artists and
> handling copyright issues on their behalf. Artists and museums could choose
> to have as much or as less control over what would be published/reproduced,
> in what context and for what purpose (thus their moral rights were
> respected). That seemed a great way of putting forward the IPRs of the
> artists/collections and of generating essential revenue (the artists
> -especially those lesser known in the artworld or those with not many
> sources of income- could keep doing what they do and the museums and
> collections would create income to support their activities). This was
> around the time when the economic climate became quite bleak and funding
> cuts for arts and culture were looming in the horizon. By the time I left,
> many museums had already established their own picture libraries/rights
> departments to license artworks held in their collections and to generate
> income to fund their activities (whether that would be digitisation so as to
> increase online access for the public, or educational or conservation
> activities and so on).
> I certainly do not dispute that there are certain restrictions placed upon
> artists with the application of copyright and the problems with the
> interests of various stakeholders, including corporate ones too. However,
> what I am trying to say is that there is another side to this coin that
> could be beneficial to artists too. Copyright can possibly work vice versa.
> I recently found out about a copyright claim filed in Massachusetts against
> Dreamworks and Paramount Pictures by artist Jayme Gordon, according to whom
> the movie 'Kung Fu Panda' is based on and copied from copyright works
> authored and owned by him (
> And yet, many copyright disputes emerge among artists: Damien Hirst recently
> demanded compensation from a 16-year old artist who appropriated images of
> his £50 million diamond-encrusted skull. The young artist produced collages
> and stencil designs and sells them on an online gallery for £65 a piece (
> In light of all these, on the one hand corporations do make commercial uses
> of artworks. And on the other hand, artists may make commercial use of their
> work. So, how can we look at the issue? Should we be abolishing the concept
> of copyright all together? Should there be different layers of copyright?
> One layer for corporations and one layer for artists? And, given that I am
> referring to instances of traditional visual arts, which are different from
> new media art, should copyright be defined different in new media art
> compared to traditional forms of art?