The laws governing "intellectual property" have grown so expansive in
recent years that artists need legal experts to sort them all out.
Borrowing from another artwork--as jazz musicians did in the 1930s
and Looney Tunes illustrators did in 1940s--will now land you in
court. If the current copyright laws had been in effect back in the
day, whole genres such as collage, hiphop, and Pop Art might have
never have existed.
The irony here couldn't be more stark. Rooted in the U.S. Constitution, copyright was originally intended to facilitate the exchange of ideas but is now being used to stifle it.
The Illegal Art Exhibit will celebrate what is rapidly becoming the
"degenerate art" of a corporate age: art and ideas on the legal
fringes of intellectual property. Some of the pieces in the show have eluded lawyers; others have had to appear in court.
Loaded with gray areas, intellectual property law inevitably has a silencing effect,
discouraging the creation of new works.
Should artists be allowed to use copyrighted materials?
Where do the First Amendment and "intellectual property" law collide?
What is art's future if the current laws are allowed to stand?
Stay Free! considers these questions and others in our multimedia program.
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For in-depth information about copyright law and its impact on free
expression, please see the new
"copyright" issue of Stay Free! magazine, which includes the Illegal Art Catalog and will be available at all exhibit events. See also Copyright Articles, Illegal Art Links.
Illegal Art is sponsored by Stay Free! magazine, with support from the Internet Archives, In These Times, FOTA, Lumpen, Select Media, Ellis Avenue Studios, Prelinger Archives, and NYU's Center for Media, Culture, and History.