Saturday, February 7, 2009

Fairey Trouble

Since we're a.) creating work for public spaces and b.) occasionally borrowing images from popular culture as part of our work for the class, I thought this news item might be of interest:

Shepard Fairey, the street artist now famous for his Obama graphics (and previously for his OBEY stencil / sticker campaign) has been caught up in a lot of trouble recently: first for copyright infringement - the image he used to create his presidential posters was directly lifted from the work of a photographer for the Associated Press. Then he was arrested for tagging on his way to his solo exhibition at Boston's Institute of Contemporary Art this week. Read all about it HERE.

Shepard's case raises some important questions: as the internet makes images more accessible and borrowable than ever, where should we draw the line between appropriation and theft of another person's artwork? What's the difference between "street art" and vandalism of private property? Post your comments below.


dperez66 said...

Interesting...makes me think about the internet being a very scary thing. There is no limit to anything anymore now a days! How can you prove something is yours after you've posted it on the net? any advice christa? Poor thing got arrested on his way to his solo show:(

christa said...

Yeah, it's a complicated issue to be sure. As far as google image mining goes, it's pretty difficult to prevent others from ganking your work... but there are ways to digitally watermark it and/or show that it's yours by making sure you have documentation of yourself making/with the piece.

One thing that a lot of artists, authors, scientists, teachers, etc. use to protect/share their work is Creative Commons, which is a legal structure that provides free tools to easily mark their creative work with the freedoms they want it to carry. You can use CC to change your copyright terms from "All Rights Reserved" to "Some Rights Reserved."