'Does your work getting ripped off make your blood boil?'
The Design and Artists Copyright Society’s question is a stark reminder that while digital technology makes it increasingly easy for artists to create and publish work, bypassing traditional routes to get 'straight to the audience', it also makes it easier for others to cut, paste and plagiarize that work.
The Gowers Review of Intellectual Property notes that copyright 'suffers from a marked lack of public legitimacy' today. For the visual arts this problem has been heightened by digital applications, from Paint Shop Pro to Photoshop, promising to make Picassos of us all.
How do we judge what is original and excellent when work is freed up from the traditional institutions of the art gallery or the photo agency, and images are widely available online for all to use, whether simply by copying them, or by adapting and using them in 'original' work? The Gowers Review argues that by ensuring artists are rewarded, copyright 'incentivises' creativity.
But might copyright sometimes act as a curb on creativity, stifling new ways of working in the 'creative commons'? Arguably, the problem is not all that new.
Harold Bloom's 'anxiety of influence' thesis holds that authors and artists are always striving for originality against a backdrop of great works and past masters.
What does today's copyright debate tell us about artists' relationship with their own tradition? And how should artists be rewarded for their work in a digital age?- Institute of Ideas
Shirley Dent is Communications Director for the Institute of Ideas, the Battle of Ideas and development editor of Culture Wars, the reviews website of the Institute of Ideas.
Shirley researched the editorial and bibliographic history of William Blake's works for her PhD, and co-authored a book on the subject with Jason Whittaker, Radical Blake: Afterlife and Influence from 1827. She is writing an essay on the critic and editor Anne Gilchrist for the collection Women Read William Blake: 'Opposition is True Friendship.'
Previously, Dent was assistant editor of the New Humanist magazine, and Head of Communications at the Policy Studies Institute.
Cia Durante is a London-based artist who studied Fine Art at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design graduating in 2000 and completed a Masters in Fine Art Photography at the Royal College of Art in 2005.
Durante was President of Students Union at the Royal College of Art during 2006/7. Since then Durante has been working for FuelRCA as Programme Manager developing college-wide professional practice as well as spending time in her studio. Durante's most recent show this year was Seeing is Believing at the Photographer's Gallery in January 2008 and recent publications include her work series Envelopment published by Next Level (issue 10).
A graduate of Cambridge University, Gowers began his journalistic career in 1980 as a graduate trainee with Reuters before working as a correspondent in Brussels and Zurich.
Gowers joined the Financial Times in London in 1983 and held a number of positions including agriculture correspondent, commodities editor, Middle East editor, features editor and foreign editor before he was named Deputy Editor in 1994. Andrew was acting Editor for 15 months from July 1997 while the Editor, Richard Lambert was in New York to launch the U.S. edition of the Financial Times. In January 1999 Andrew was appointed founding editor of Financial Times Deutschland ahead of its launch in February 2000. Gowers was Editor and Director of the Financial Times Publishing Group from 2001 to 2005.
Gowers co-authored a biography of Yasser Arafat published in 1990 and republished in an updated version in 2004. In December 2005 he was appointed to lead an independent review for the British government of the UK's intellectual property regime, which was published by HM Treasury in December 2006.
Gowers was previously Global Co-Head of Corporate Communications, Marketing and Brand Management at Lehman Brothers.
Gowers is married with two children and lives in South-East London.
Spriggens trained as a journalist in New Zealand and worked in communications and PR for several not-for-profit organisations before moving to the UK.
Since joining DACS in 2004 she has worked to build the profile of the organization amongst artists and raise awareness of copyright issues. Spriggens was instrumental in the successful implementation of the Artist's Resale Right in the UK.
Sandy Starr is Communications Officer at the Progress Educational Trust, a registered charity that works to create an environment in which research and practice in genetics and assisted reproduction will thrive.
Most recently he has been concerned with the consequences for biomedicine of the UK's Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill, and has coordinated strategy among individuals and organisations with an interest in this far-reaching legislation.
Previously he researched and wrote on science, technology and culture for the current affairs publication spiked; consulted and spoke on intellectual property for the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe and for the European Commission research project RightsWatch; reviewed films for The Sun newspaper's TV Mag; and contributed chapters on regulation and law to five books. He is an evangelist for the view that political, scientific and cultural endeavor can if permitted to transform humanity's circumstances for the better.
The reality rather than these lofty ideas is succinctly expressed in the comments on a youtube video about the pirate bay file sharing site, "beacause pirates dont have to pay a thing. AAARRRGGH!" Lofty ideas about copyright mean nothing to these kids. People who pay are seen as being stupid and most believe paying supports big business( apparently all big business is bad). Supporting artists does not enter their minds. Perhaps a talk about how to survive might be helpful.