I was asked a question (later in this post)
That made me think about derivative art
1 – What qualifies?
2 – What are the legal implications?
(I’m no lawyer; take with a grain of salt)
A Derivative? Not in the legal sense IMO. Read on….
Derivatives of a derivative
1st da Vinci, 2nd Duchamp, last GWU
Above is an animated GIF from
Computer Law 484, Professor Richard H. Stern
GWU Law School
Fair Use (If not, I’m sure GWU will let me know)
I learned about derivatives in math, not law school 😉
The above actually has a 3rd derivative
I added the B&W Duchamp to the GWU version
What is derivative art?
An example of derivative art –
In the beginning there was –
da Vinci’s Mona Lisa
Then there was
L.H.O.O.Q. (look it up) by Duchamp – a derivative
The most famous derivative work in the world has been said to be L.H.O.O.Q., also known as the Mona Lisa With a Moustache.
Generations of US copyright law professors have used it as a paradigmatic example.
One of the six exclusive rights given to a copyright owner is the right “to prepare derivative works based upon the copyrighted work.”
So even though your work may be a derivative,
That doesn’t mean you own the copyright or
Or don’t have to get permission
Not answered (at least in this post) is
How different from the original must your work be in order not to be a derivative?
Lawyers, feel free to chime in
Personal note – I’m comfortable my image at the top is problem free
Read on to find out about the original (several times removed)
My image – A heavily manipulated photo of a heavily manipulated photo of a glass sculpture
What are the legal implications of derivative art?
Be very careful when it comes to copyrights.
Changing medium (photo of a statue)
Isn’t of itself enough
Sculptor still holds the copyright
A photo of the same scene as in a copyrighted photo
May (or may not) get you in trouble
Copyright law is confusing (to say the least)
Whenever a copyright law is to be made or altered, then the idiots assemble.
Only one thing is impossible for God: to find any sense in any copyright law on the planet.
Mark Twain’s Notebook, 1902-1903
Two starting points for those who want to dig deeper –
Photography, Copyright, and “Derivative Works”
VISUAL ART CASES – DERIVATIVES
Why this post? (why indeed!)
Recently a local photo club visited a glass exhibit.
Being a photo club, they took photos –
(by Alan Skerker – Fair Use by me)
There is a local abstract image exhibit coming up soon –
When I saw these images (and similar by others)
I opined that some of them might be suitable entries
This opinion stimulated the following question –
Wouldn’t that be tantamount to photographing some portion of say, a Jackson Pollock work and claiming it as your own?
Operating in the ignorance is bliss mode I replied that
Probably OK if the resulting image is sufficiently different from the original
I also elaborated & have since decided I was full-of-it
But in my defense I offer Mark Twain’s opinions above 😉
I did offer an example of what I felt was far enough removed from the original to be safe from any legal concerns
My example (shown at the top of the post) was explained in my reply as follows –
“My cell phone camera hand-held 😉 in macro mode, a piece of Alan’s 1st image with funky glass in front of the monitor as the subject, into PS for texture & distortion >>> voila. It’s neither the glass guy’s work nor Alan’s IMO.”
Before you take another picture around here, Russ, hire a lawyer.
You know that I’ve shot everything, from every angle, in every season.
Whatever you shoot, I’ve already done it & it’s copyrighted.
I’ll sue. 😉
What did I learn today?
Samuel Clemons (AKA Mark Twain) was right. 😦
A footnote – Google something like “Warhol soup copyright”
Tidbits you’ll find –
He did not ask permission for his Campbells Soup paintings
Campbells chose to “watch & wait” before doing nothing
In 2012, for the 50th anniversary of the paintings,
Campbells paid the Warhol foundation for
Licensing to use the Warhol Campbell cans
Campbell’s special edition cans
Bizarre – paying to use your own copyrighted work
Apparently part of a PR stunt?
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