Intellectual Property – Fair Use

Click here: How An Artist uses Fair Use

There is much confusion about how a person can use and manipulate another person’s work, be it music, photography, writing or the like. Many people may ask: why bother trying to use someone else work? Why risk myself breaking copyright?

Because using and sharing original works is nothing wrong. For hundreds of years, mankind had written down and altered many stories and pieces of art from one another with no worries about being sued. Michelangelo’s sculpture “David”? Beautiful, isn’t it?

Michelangel's David

Check out Donatello’s “David” done in in the 1440s,approximately 60 or so years before Michelangelo carved the masterpiece above.

Donatello's David

But it doesn’t stop! Bernini’s “David” is awe inspiring too! Look at that energy! Bernini carved this David in 1623-1624.

Bernini's David

By today’s standards, I think that a lot of these artist’s lawyers would have their panties in a twist over copyright and intellectual property. Admit it. You know that Donatello’s lawyer would have sued Michelangelo the moment he saw that statue, even if it is the epitome of Renaissance art and is the most recognizable sculpture in the world. That lawyer would have demanded that it be destroyed.

Would that have been okay? Is it okay for us to ask that?

Isn’t all of these works of art beautiful? Isn’t all of them great in their own way?

So shouldn’t people today use and share and grow from each others’ art, like the incredible artists in the past did? Why limit ourselves and be scared of overly protective copyright and intellectual property laws? It’s okay to be inspired isn’t it? It’s okay to build off of others, isn’t it?

That is what fair use is trying to tell us. Yes, some of these laws are in place to protect us from the abusers and predators of our creative works, but it shouldn’t scare off other artists. Some of these laws are in place for people to make money. Some people were getting greedy and knew how to keep people away. By drawing this line, these over-protective copyright laws, people could sue others for even hinting that the other’s work borrowed from their own. More money for them.

And though I am happy that there are laws against the people who want to steal and plagiarize my work for their own benefit, I don’t want to be scared to be inspired by others. I want to share my work with the community. I want to grow and work through ideas with my fellow artists so we can all benefit. And I believe fair use is a wonderful way to do this while still respecting the original creator’s wishes.

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5 thoughts on “Intellectual Property – Fair Use

  1. Hi Alyssa, I enjoyed reading your article. It is quite interesting when you brought up the event when artists and sculptures in the Renaissance period were sued against the copyright issues. Before reading your article, I had no idea about this. But the copyright issue has been going on for centuries, and it still a big topic now. I agree with your opinion about the fair use. We dont want people to use or plagiarize our work and commit to those as their properties. That’s is intolerable. ( I will jump on them if they do so, haha.) However, it is good if some one can you our works and innovate those. I would be glad if someone do so.

  2. I always thought that the sculpture of David was derived from only one person. However, upon reading your article I now know that it dates down through 3 artists. Very interesting indeed. The only thing that kept resonating in my mind was how the whole issue of fair use is not just a matter of whats right and what’s wrong, but rather it stems more from our satisfaction of our basic needs.

    Not too long ago we explored Maslow’s Pyramid of needs and we saw that man has an inherent need to to satisfy his esteem. This means that self-esteem, achievement, mastery, independence, status, dominance, prestige, managerial responsibility, etc. all need to be careful satisfied or disappointment and self defeat is eventually sought. I firmly believe that seeing derivative creativity ( that is using the work of others to help create new work) as harmful nowadays is really just an indication that we are mostly selfish. Not that I’m totally discrediting the concept of plagiarism and theft, but I do believe that much of the controversy is just a matter of an unwillingness to help create new ideas and a need to remain the alpha person in society.

    Think about it, if the ideas of certain well known philosophers like Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin were not built upon we would not have been able to use the ipads and ipods we currently own ( yes, there is a connection). However, had these two been alive I am sure they would have fought against the use of their work too, just like most persons are doing in society today…

  3. Wow! Amazing perspective on several important areas Alyssa – I really did enjoy reading this piece. I fell over with laughter when you urged honesty in admitting Donatello’s lawyer would have sued Michelangelo! That certainly made a list in my books! I think you’re right though- there would have been so much suing back in those days that perhaps we would not have had half of the amazing, historical art pieces that we have today!

  4. You did an amazing job in using these beautiful art works to talk about copy right Fair use. This is a very thoughtful illustration of you.
    Your illustration took my mind to the very things that inspire creativity. So many people are inspired differently; some are inspired by learning from the works of others and creating something unique out of them, while others are inspired by nature or different forces to create things entirely different from the source of their inspirations.
    The artists; Michelangelo, Bernini, and Donatello thought of one specific character at different times and created one character in three different ways. Though the two must have gotten inspiration from Donatello’s David, the representation and artistry among the three works are distinct.
    In the same way fairuse give people the room to create based on other people’s idea. But the difference is that toady credit has to be given to the original creator.

  5. Pingback: Blog Portfolio « Minh Bui

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