Found Images, Ethics and Copyright

In a couple of weeks it will be the first anniversary of my first blog post. Since then, certain topics and questions seem to keep cropping up. One of these is copyright. So I was interested in a couple of items that I’ve come across this week about using other peoples’ images.

The first of these, ‘More Thoughts on Social Media, Art, and Privacy’ on Beauchamp Art’s blog, was more concerned with ethics rather copyright:

“One of my peer’s works involves, amongst other things, taking nude, or semi-nude photos of them self, which are then edited, and displayed online. I propose that I could take these nudes from the site that they are hosted on [tumblr], print/paint/replicate them in some way, then present them as examples of how people are willing to expose themselves online, where as in the flesh they would refrain from doing so in public.
“As the other person has chosen to upload and share the source pictures online, then it is sort of voluntary invasion of privacy, a submission, a passive form of exhibitionism. This is only a proposal for the idea, I have not and probably shall not do it, out of respect for my peer’s privacy and their work. However, if I were to enact this, I would not have to ask the individual in question’s permission to use their images, in fact, which would defeat the object of the piece.
“With modern social media, one can casually become an interloper with little effort or moral objection – the emotional disconnect between an individual and their digital activities is almost severed.”

Secondly, Helen South writes about drawing and sketching on the site Among all the adverts, there is a lot of useful information. Recently she was concerned about ‘Copyright Strangling Art’.

“Imagine – Francis Bacon being sued for copyright breach of Velazquez in his painting ‘Screaming Pope’ ! … If Andy Warhol was working today, I wonder if much of his famous work would have ever been produced. Or perhaps he would have thumbed his nose at the establishment and gone ahead anyway.”

IMG_9476 (600 x 400)From my visit to MoMA a couple of years ago

Helen South provides a couple of useful links. The first is to an article about ‘Copycat Commandos’ on site which gives several examples of artists who have had problems with copyright. The other is about Derivative Works. In addition, she has also written another article about Copyright For Artists which includes common myths and how to keep your artwork legal.


About notes to the milkman

I'm a printmaker based in the North West of England, living in Bolton and printing at Hot Bed Press in Salford. Please visit my website
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