CMU School of Drama

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

The Creative Commons, or “Commonly Creative”

HowlRound: Any playwright or other theatre artist ought to have some familiarity with the copyright law, not only to protect their own rights to their creative work, but also to understand what kind of work they can use created by somebody else—no one works in a vacuum. Artists are constantly riffing and expanding upon the images and ideas that they see and hear around them. But as a general matter of copyright law, only the person who creates the work has the right to copy and/or use it.


Xinyi Wang said...

I am taking an art class right now called "Art Writer" with Melissa Ragona in the art department, and the class is about conceptual art and conceptual writing, which frequently experiment with appropriation and obscure the boundary of plagiarism. This movement can be traced back to DuChamp and his "readymades" -- objects designed and built by other people but redefined as art. One of the conceptual artists we study is Kenneth Goldsmith, and one of his greatest ideas in my opinion is that in this age of information explosion, appropriation is the new perspective for making art, and it is the new form of innovation. I think this is a very revolutionary idea, but it definitely creates a grey area, where ownership becomes blurry and it is questionable how people should protect their own ideas. I think Creative Commons is a very smart way to strike a balance between sharing works among artists, and preventing people from taking advantage of them. It is great that it provides a standardized model for individuals and organizations to define their licenses themselves, because nowadays information takes so many different forms and people own/use it for all sorts of purposes. It might also be helpful if artists and appropriators can have more direct communication with either when sharing works. Creative Commons could potentially serve as a platform for people to reach individual agreements before any disputes can happen.

Lucy Scherrer said...

I feel like this is such a problem now because of all the information so quickly available to us on the internet. Since it requires little to no effort to find images and other kinds of media, the feeling of ownership by another person isn't as clear. If you go to a museum and see a painting, it's clear that it exists on a wall somewhere and someone took the time to create it. However, if you see a piece of digital art or a photograph online, it seems less of a physical creation and more just floating in space somewhere. Creative Commons licensing seems like such a slippery slope because once someone can take something and claim it as their own, there's no easy way to disprove that you actually created it. However, to completely abolish Creative Commons would mean that so much of the information on the internet wouldn't be "shared" for people to use, which is one of the better things about the internet.

Sarah Boyle said...

I completely agree with the earlier comment that with media so easily accessible, there isn’t a strong sense of it being someone else’s. I would add that it’s also easier now to sell your own work through sites like Etsy. It’s not big companies, it can also just be another person that maybe benefiting from your work (whether or not they intended to). The other aspect of the issue to consider is how different your work needs to be from someone else’s work you are appropriating or are inspired by. One of my favorite artists is Roy Lichtenstein. Some of his most famous paintings were stylized versions of comic book covers, which drew plenty of criticism. Creative commons sounds like a good idea, if for no other reason than to get artists to consider that whatever work they put online might get used by someone else, and figure out if that matters to them. It might allow artists to get some exposure for their work and try to keep it their own.

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