As I wrote about in my previous post, I’m in the midst of a graduate degree program at Pratt Institute’s School of Information, which will provide me with the tools to work as a cataloger for an art library. My primary goal is to work with the art image collection at one of New York’s cultural institutions.
One of the subjects I’m focusing on is something that somewhat contradicts my artistic creative past: Rights Management. There are a few reasons why I chose to explore this subject, all of which have strong connections to the work I’ve done in the past and the artist network I connect myself to.
What is Rights Management? It sounds really dry, right? Maybe ten years ago, it would have been utterly boring to me, but now that the internet, and thus social networking, is changing the art paradigm, fuzzying the concepts of who owns what, it’s become quite a hot issue. It’s certainly a contentious one, but it’s also part of how our culture is changing: how we communicate, and even how we perceive our surroundings.
Basically, Rights Management manages the rights of intellectual property. In more colorful and simplistic terms, it helps keep people from stealing your shit. Part of it is related to Copyright Law, while it is also related to what artists and image users agree to when they interact with (e.g. post, publish, share, copy, etc.) digital images online.
My interest in it stems from the growth of infringement artists experience as they become popular online (see the main image on this post: comparisons between photos by Jason Levesque and the paintings Josephat Miranda created from those photos without Jason’s permission). Posting artwork online seems to be free, but in reality, once artwork is viewable by thousands, it’s also useable by thousands, many of whom don’t understand how their use of an image could either promote or damage its creator’s career. Along those same lines, many artists and their advocates don’t seem to understand the nuances of copyright law, and how artists can and cannot control how their work is used.
Right now, I’m happily in the midst of a summer break. I’m dreaming that I’ll be able to publish a few more posts on the subject on my blog, here, before I jump back into classes in September. At that point, I’ll be deep into learning about art librarianship and cataloging, spending much of my time at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Watson Library and the Brooklyn Museum library, and won’t have much time for babbling over here. To understand this copyright stuff, I’ll need to talk about it. Hopefully I can use this blog to do just that.