Collage and Copyright

The issue of every collage artist is Copyright. There are so many questions, so much gray area. It's political. It's very much a part of our current public discussion.
How strange is it that I had started a conversation on saatchi about this very subject. I am going to post the text of it here...

In my collage, I use a lot of labels, pictures and ephemera from all time periods. Some of it is in the public domain, but an equal amount is not. Little snippets from magazines, half of a Mobil logo...torn labels from a candy bar. the cellophane wrapped around a 2 litre bottle of soda...these pieces become the basis of my work. However they are copyrighted. They are in their original form at least. In my art, it may take 20+ snips to complete one composition. None of the images I use is used in its original context in my work. Each item has taken on a new life in my new work and is only a small part in the composite of the new work.
I want to begin marketing a book that I have completed. It has a multitude of imagery, and a portion of it is cut and torn from modern sources. I worry about the risks a publisher might face in taking on a project of this sort. What kind of rights do I really seriously have? If the parent company of Clorox decides to sue someone on account that the fair maid in my collage is sitting in a nest with a clorox bottle flower, will this be grounds for court???
Is there a reason for me to be apprehensive?
In this age of cut and paste, I wonder what my rights really are. This is the gray area. What can I really do with my work? Will publishers shy away from me because of the nature of my materials?
I would love to push this envelope.

By rustik

its called appropriation and your recontextualising.. and you will be offered a cease and desist. worst case scenario it goes to court and youd be lucky to draw such attention and create such an interesting conversation with pop culture, it would add dimensions to the work.
but think about it - warhols soup cans!

when koons sold 3 "string of puppies" 4 $367000 he did find him self in a bit of a case, - google that and also his new case which you may identify with stronger - its more clip arty..

also look up rosenquist's new work

By no where man

snip, snip...i'm doing some mousey nibbling too myself, u know...only using my teeth, no scissors in the correct size for a mouse available, sir.

By mickeymouse

i guess my first response would be to say that if that's your method of operation, you should know the letter of the law and apply it to your process from the beginning...then you don't have to worry...i don't think it has to take anything away from your art if you can't use certain images...i think artists use whatever is available to them to do what they have to do...maybe you should think of the offlimit stuff as truly offlimits and use what you can...a painter with one brush uses one brush

by olive

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


I'm an attorney (20 years) and a collage artist... You may want to read http://blogs.fairusenetwork.org/?p=12 for the most recent take on collage and copyright law.

___A place to find all kinds of information about collage.