Monday, October 17, 2011

When I Paint My Masterpiece

Bob Dylan continues to fascinate me on so many levels. Several years ago I wrote about (and tortured my Copyright Law students with) the story of how Dylan had apparently ‘appropriated’ large chunks of the lyrics to some of the songs on his 2001 album Love and Theft from Japanese writer Junichi Saga.( A couple of weeks ago, I read an article in the New York Times that revealed that several of Dylan’s paintings in his current gallery show at New York’s Gagosian gallery were actually copied from photographs taken by such well know photographers as Henri Cartier-Bresson and Leon Busy.

As always with Dylan, I am not sure what to make of this. Is it copying? It is plagiarism? Is it copyright infringement? Is it all protected fair use?

It turns out that the Gagosian Galley which is hosting the Dylan show is the same gallery that was sued along with artist Richard Prince, another artist whose work fascinates me, for copyright infringement based upon Prince’s work. Apparently, the defendants lost a summary judgment but the case will surely be appealed. (Cariou v. Prince, et. al., no 08-civ-11327).I have been really interested in this and the whole debate between attribution and copyright infringement in art and I wish I had more time to study it. This is endlessly fascinating stuff.

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