Originality, Publicity, and Lawsuits

Originality, as defined by Merriam-Webster, states that it is the power of independent thought or constructive imagination. Everyone looks for it, that is originality, within our work, our jobs, our lives, our sense of self. But do you ever stop to think how much of who you are, what you do, and what you make is constituted by the thoughts, images, and actions of those who you surround yourself with?

Art, most often times, is when individuals get to express the way that they feel onto a canvas for others to see. This means that the art is assumed to be their own individual work and ideas. What happens when artists choose to draw on others views and art work?

In Andy Warhol’s lifetime, he faced several different lawsuits. Andy Warhol was famous for “borrowing” others’ photography, logos, and ideas in which he used in his own photos. He found that he could repurpose others art with his own creativity by using different colors and platforms on which he created his art on. After viewing Warhol’s art work entitled, Campbell’s Soup Cans, was originally going to sue him for the obvious use of their logo but decided to turn a blind eye since they were receiving so much free media and attention from so many people. Later on, they even decided to compensate Warhol with free soup. Following this case, Warhol came out with a series entitled Flowers. He used Patricia Caufield’s photographs as the basis for his artwork. It seems as though since she felt she was not getting anything out of the photos, such as free publicity, she only wanted to be compensated through money.

Soon, a copyright law was created, known as the derivative work. This allows for artists to draw on other artists work, but they must prove that the new work created has enough of its originality. I believe that the derivative work copyright law was the most important step in moving forward. Whether or not art is drawn from other’s artwork, as long as the new artist transforms it into their own, what is the problem? Sometimes, it may be that an artist is immediately drawn to a form of art in which almost expresses how he/she feels, and they should be able to expand on and create their own original work from the source. Others artwork should be just that, a source, another place to find inspiration in. Otherwise, if artists cannot use other’s as creativity where are they supposed to find it at?

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