Copyright infringement happens repeatedly throughout the world in all media aspects. Most of the cases are a matter of opinion and not all black and white. A case that quickly comes to mind when thinking of copyright infringement is one during President Obama’s first campaign. The “Hope” poster quickly became one of the most identifiable campaigning tools for the campaign and followed quickly with a copy infringement
scandal quickly after. The design and poster themselves were produced by the famous street artist Shephard Fairey. Though the artist produced the work itself it was independent of Obama’s campaign, but had the approval (Art Beat). A copyright infringement case soon came into play once the Associated press revealed that the true photographer was the AP freelancer Mannie Garcia. The Boston.com link below shows a contrast between the original photograph and Fairey’s poster. Although the Hope poster was designed and edited by Fairey, his work was based off the photograph taken by Mannie. What really made this case, in my opinion, not so black and white was the popularity of the poster versus the popularity of the photograph. Thousands of photographs are taken everyday of the President and can be easily found on a variety of websites. If an artist takes an original work and puts their own “flair” on it, does it not become a completely different work then the original entirely? I believe that every work that an artist does is independent of all works before it. Regardless of what a song, poem, or in this case a poster is based on, that work itself is the only work that comes into play. Greed is the driving emotion behind another artist wanting to claim the work that spun off from it. Although I do believe some credit should be given to the “original” artists, recognition should be as far as it goes. Lessig, I feel, would agree with me, “Why would we burden the creative process—not just film, but generally, and not just the arts, but innovation more broadly—with rules that seem to have no connection to innovation and creativity?” (Lessig 4)A true artist in any area should only hope to get their work out there, and feel honored that another artist would use their work not just solely just in the fact that they thought it was special and unique enough to use, but also the fact that the artists are helping the original work “improve” and become more well known.
In relation to Kant and Milton, I believe that they would disagree. Milton and Kant seem to operate along the lines of that if a product is a spin off of an original work, it creates problems. Where I disagree is does it not help the world intellectually rather than holding us back? The point of growing intellectually is development, which, in black and white, could be seen as making original products better. Yes, that does leave little room for our own ideas; however, in the 21st century I feel that there is little room for truly original work in the basic sense of the world. “Original” though is so loosely defined. “Enlightenment is man’s emergence from his self-imposed nonage. Nonage is the inability to use one’s own understanding without another’s guidance.” (Kant). In ways I do agree with Kant that the idea is not original since Fairey, did not take the photo however, I feel that the originality lies in the way Fairey manipulate the photo itself therefore making an original piece into yet another original piece.
In the end Fairey and the AP Press settled in a private settlement, but there was a part including the split of the profits that the work generated (99 designs). Every person has their own opinions on copyright. And as Milton states “when God gave him reason, he gave him freedom to choose, for reason is but choosing” (Milton). The result of the case was necessary to settle with the AP press, but in the future the covering of the original work should be done in such a manner that it have no true tie back to the original owner.
(the case itself)