Mona Lisa with a moustache.
June 2, 2010 3:25 PM Subscribe
Would I be infringing an artist's copyright if I copy her work for personal enjoyment?
posted by anonymous to Media & Arts (12 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
It is a large installation and probably somewhat recognizable among people in my industry as over the past half decade or so it's been exhibited in a couple of buildings that host seminars on a regular basis. I love it. I want it. I contacted the artist, and she was very happy about the prospect of selling it. However, once I actually came in with my tape measure, it turned out that while it kinda fits in my current space, it will almost certainly be too large for any future homes I might move into.
I'd be glad to comission a somewhat smaller version of it for my house. The artist is very hesitant to commit to the work, and mentioned that it previously took her almost a year to create. I'm not happy about waiting that long, and there are other problems.
The materials chosen by the artist are fragile and nearly impossible to move without having to reconstruct the entire piece. They also significantly limit how much she could vary the dimensions. I feel that it would be inaproppriate for me to request that she built it out of the materials that I want – this is not bathroom remodeling, after all – and she is already not particularly open to a comissioned version.
Here is my dilemma: I could, on my own, create exactly the installation I want. It would be fun for me to do so, and I can't help being excited about the prospect of such a challenge. I would also build it of materials that make it easier to transport, something that is important to me as anticipate moving coast-to-coast several times over the next decade. My version would be a direct copy of the concept (no room for discussion), even if I vary other aspects.
I estimate that it would take me about three to four months to complete, working only on weekends, and that includes tracking down materials with the right dimensions. At this point, it would be pretty much just handywork for me, something I greatly enjoy and I'm good at – neither I nor others who've seen the work understand how it could take longer than that to construct. More importantly, I'm certain that my work would be better than the artist's from a technical viewpoint.
I like supporting local art. I even made sure that the artist would be getting all my money and not losing half to gallery fees. The installation costs about $6,000 which I am happy to pay, but I am not going to buy something that just doesn't work for me. I'm at best reluctant to pay that for a smaller version of a similarly fragile installation that will take a year to complete. It would cost me less than $1,000, including the purchase of a certain powertool, to build, but that really doesn't matter. There's also the issue that at this point, I honestly just can't wait to get started.
I'm not asking for any discussion of the ethical implications of proceeding with this plan.
Will I be breaking any laws? If so, how is this different from performing covers of Lady Gaga songs at school events, or reenacting scenes from Lost Translation at home? I will not be making any money off of my version of the art, and I certanly will never sell it. I would refer to it as "copy of Artist's Art" to those who see it.
If you were in the artist's place, what would you do (I'm not asking how you would feel) if I shared this plan with you?
Is the artist entitled to compensation? It's important to me to support fantastic local artists like her. She needs the money more than I do, but at the same time, I realise that it's not my job to market her skills. How would I even breach the subject with her?
Are there any solutions that I am missing?