Sunday, September 26, 2010

Copyright Nazism

Hey, let me start this by saying that I am a big proponent of artist's rights when it comes to copyright law. I lecture my clients all the time about the intricate details of who owns what, and that just because they hired an artist for a job (photography, illustration or design) does not grant them the inherent copyright attached to the work of art.

But yesterday I encountered what I believe to be the most extreme example of copyright enforcement that I've ever encountered—a form of copyright nazism. Margaret & I went to visit Fallingwater, the Frank Lloyd Wright masterpiece in the Laurel Highlands east of Pittsburgh.

We were given a brochure after paying to tour the grounds that reads: "...All photographs, paintings, and sketches generated during your visit are for personal use only and cannot be sold, published or posted on a website without permission of the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy..." OK, so this is an architectural masterpiece done by Wright, and any art created from it would be derivative—maybe I can buy that, but it's a real stretch.

But the really galling part is that they have works of art for sale in a special gallery with art done by members of the Associated Artist's of Pittsburgh. So, obviously these folks have been granted papal dispensation to produce art and profit from it. Selective absolution. Geez, this kind of thinking would have played well in the Germany in the 30's. Oh, that's right, it did.

So, yes, I am pissed. I think artists have the right to intrepret the world through their art: including the world that may or may not include architectural masterpieces. Should we prohibit Andy Warhol's use of iconic soup cans? Any and all artist images of the Chrysler Building? The Flatiron Building? The Hancock Building? Transamerica Building? Charles Demuth's many architecturally inspired works?

This is copyright radicalism taken to the extreme. And yes I do believe it is a form of nazism. Photos above are for sale by the way, all profits will be turned over to the Conservancy.

1 comment:

James E. Moran said...

Go Dennis! I love it when you rant. You are absolutely right in your opinion. So, can I buy your photos and then turn you in for copyright infringement? Then we can both be in the newspaper. Always wanted to turn you into a miscreant celeb. Aside from that, I love the photos. Too bad you don't "own" the images. Nazi bastards!