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Copyright morality



I'd like to thank everyone who has posted on the issue of copyright. It's
something I know I haven't thought about enough. I'd never dream of copying
another writer's words without acknowledgement, and where possible,
permission too, but I hadn't applied that simple principle to artefacts.

When I started getting interested in bookbinding, I just ripped damaged
books apart and copied the way they'd been put together. Then I got books on
binding methods, and more exotic ideas from, for example, La Plante's book,
and copied, of course. That's what they were inviting me to do. But I also,
if I see 'paper sculpture' in an art gallery, want to come home and see if I
can do it too. I do it badly. No one would pay me for it, or prefer it to
the original, or probably do anything but tip it into the waste paper box,
but is it okay to play with a professional artist's ideas for my own
amusement? I know there's a great tradition of copying in the visual arts as
a teaching/training method: is it acceptable?

Also, in the field of graphics and packaging, there are some gorgeous (but
very expensive) books on publicity 'freebies', give away pop ups etc. so
good they've won awards. I don't even buy the books, because I can't afford
them. But I remember a technique and run home from the bookshop to reproduce
it. Mostly just for fun, but if it works, I might use a little card box to
package a gift, or a novel book format for a short story for a friend.

I like to think what I do shows my appreciation for the work of the
originator, and maybe increases interest among my friends for book and paper
arts in general. I always give credit if someone asks where I got the idea
(but they don't often ask).

What I'm asking is, am I doing something I shouldn't? Should I put more
effort into saying whose idea something is? Is it okay to reproduce
someone's basic method, so long as I'm doing something new with it, evolving
it further? Isn't that the whole story of the 'History of Art'? (Only, in my
case, I'm probably devolving things.)

Sorry for going on at length, but since I'm mainly on this list to get
ideas, I'd like to know how the donors of original ideas (rather than the
benefits of accumulated human wisdom) feel about it.

Jane
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