new rules on how to copy other artists

Been thinking a lot these days about appropriation. Is it okay for artists to borrow material from other artists? Certainly it’s okay to borrow from the conventions of the bourgeois art institution (um, hello, belly-button point of view!). But maybe it’s not okay to photograph someone else’s art and then call it yr thesis (um, hello, Sherrie Levine!). And what about borrowing from the real world? (Did Duchamp pay for that fountain? Should the British Museum return the Elgin Marbles? Should I give Cindy Sherman her name back?) Certainly on the blogue I’ve appropriated heavily from various sources, including the youtube and the google. But is this blogue art?

Anyway, the righteous Judge Deborah Batts finally gave an answer to some of these questions the other day when she handed down a ruling that explains the difference between “appropriation art” and “copyright infringement.”

Sorry you had to learn this the hard way, Richard Prince! But just think how many future generations of artists you’ve helped with this “object lesson.”

Judge Batts certainly was able to clear up some confusion. The question now is where do we go from here? Would now be an “appropriate” (har har) time to go to law school, and open up a sort of “artists’ personal injury” firm whereby I could represent Campbell’s soup and sue the shit out of the Warhol estate? Will somebody be responsible for digging through the archive to find more “object lessons” in “appropriation without the legal mess”? Will someone finally be able to explain to me whether or not the choreography/music of the classic Gesamtkunstwerk Mary Martin Peter Pan (1960) constitutes copyright infringement on Nijinsky & Stravinsky’s work in The Rite of Spring (see minute 2:45)? Or maybe it’s the Joffrey Ballet ripping off Jerome Robbins’s choreography?


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