Plagiarizing?

Anna Clare McDuff amcduff at math.sunysb.edu
Fri May 16 12:39:17 EDT 2003


On Sat, 17 May 2003, Aimee Smith wrote:

> Just to add to the debate, what would happen if you took an original idea of
> an artist and wrote a story for a series of pictures that they did? How far
> removed would that story have to be so as not to infringe upon copyright?

	As long as you didn't photocopy the thing & put it on the cover, I
would think that you would be all right. After all the *ideas* behind the
painting are not copyrightable and once the painter has shared them with
the world in the form of the painting, anyone may use them. I think this
fact has saved the bacon of many modern conceptual artists who just seem
to rip off the ideas of Duchamp left, right & centre! We can conclude that
they are unimaginitive & small minded and we can scorn them utterly, but
we can't sue them for violating Duchamp's copyright, deeply satisfying
though such action might be...

	... But down from my hobby horse and back to your question! The
actual *image* of the picture is subject to copyright. You are allowed
fair use without copyright violation, and I would think that would include
both properly attributed description of the painting & being inspired by
it to come up with something of your own (which is arguably more along the
Transmission Of Ideas front anyway). I would think that if the painting
was a major part of your inspiration it would be polite, with the
painter's consent, to acknowledge & thank the painter & even give contact
details, so the painter can benefit from any curiosity of the reader, but
if for example you approached the painter and they objected to your
publishing a story inspired by their work, I'm not sure copyright
legislation would give them any help in their fight against you...

	Anna


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