Resources from "Art of Copyright" Session at Grantmakers in the Arts

[Source: Nathan Cummings Foundation and Media Democracy Fund, November 7, 2011]

Maurine Knighton of the Nathan Cummings Foundation and Yolanda Hippensteele of the Media Democracy Fund led a discussion on the "Art of Copyright" at Grantmakers in the Arts, which delved into the complex and increasingly unclear field, particularly as it relates to digital works and remix culture. Below is a list of resources, including videos presented during the session to help funders learn more about this critically important issue.
Main discussion themes:
  • Copyright is intended to protect creativity and allow artists fair compensation for reproductions of their work. However, it is difficult to clearly and fairly define ownership of creative work, given the degree to which artists, thinkers and other creatives influence each other.
  • Copyright is becoming increasingly unclear in the digital age, as sharing, referencing and remixing become ever easier and more commonplace on the Internet.
  • The current copyright framework can hinder creativity. Because copyright law is so unclear, and many artists can't hire a lawyer, they may stifle their own artistic impulses in order to avoid any potential accusations of copyright infringement.
  • There are many examples of the ways copyright laws are being abused by powerful interests to profit from others’ creativity or to claim ownership over traditional practices.
  • It is not effective or efficient to manage the problems of copyright regulation through millions of individual lawsuits. Copyright policy should be fixed and clarified through legislation so it is not left to be litigated in every particular instance at great expense.
  • There are some excellent organizations making art about copyright issues, developing educational resources for artists, litigating individual cases, and also working on policy solutions and alternatives like Creative Commons.
Videos and images from the session:
Further information: 
Policy and advocacy groups and resources: