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Artists Learn About Appropriation, Fair Use, Copyright, and Copy-Wrong

The blurry legal territory distinguishing copyright infringement from fair use, and appropriation from plagiarism, will be explored on Friday at SOHO20 Gallery.

The crowd at a previous "Getting Basic" event at SOHO20 Gallery (photo courtesy SOHO20 Gallery)
The crowd at a previous “Getting Basic” event at SOHO20 Gallery (photo courtesy SOHO20 Gallery)

The boundaries between appropriation and plagiarism, fair use and copyright infringement are notoriously blurry in contemporary art — just ask Patrick Cariou. Not only are these issues complex, but people in the art world rarely discuss them openly and honestly. More often than not, they are dealt with in opaque and costly legal proceedings or dismissed as inevitable risks of making contemporary art. However, artists are getting more vocal and educated about these issues, whether it’s through resources like the new “Cyberlaw Guide to Protest Art” or open discussions like those organized by artist Sue Jeong Ka, who was moved to create a forum for such conversations after her own experience of appropriation.

Sue Jeong Ka, "Typeface: Helvetica Black (from The Artist's Reserved Rights Transfer and sale Agreement by Seth Siegelaub)" (courtesy the artist)
Sue Jeong Ka, “Typeface: Helvetica Black (from The Artist’s Reserved Rights Transfer and sale Agreement by Seth Siegelaub)” (courtesy the artist)

The latest iteration in Ka’s series of talks, “Getting Basic: Misappropriation, Plagiarism, Fair Use, and Grey Areas,” takes place Friday at Bushwick’s SOHO20 Gallery, in conjunction with the Feminist Art Project. The blogger Allison Harbin (of Post-PhD) will share her own experience of misappropriation by someone on her dissertation committee. Cornell University art history PhD candidate Lauren van Haaften-Schick will offer historical context by addressing the evolution of artists’ contracts, particularly as they relate to resale and display. Finally, art lawyer Alia Sonora will lay out the distinctions between copyright infringement and plagiarism, and between copyright and fair use. The ensuing discussion should be an ideal venue for any artist with questions about these prickly issues or with their own story to share.

When: Friday, February 2, 7–9pm
Where: SOHO20 Gallery (56 Bogart Street, Bushwick)

More info at SOHO20.

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