Lessig - When Theft Serves Art

Lawrence Lessig's column in the January Wired magazine talks about the approach to copyright taken by Andy Warhol's foundation. Rather than practice the "IP extremism" that we so often see, the foundation's president says:

The Warhol Foundation is "vigorous in enforcing our rights when it comes to people wanting to use Warhol's art for commercial purposes," Wachs said. But when it comes to artists and scholars, the rules are very different. "We permit artists to use and reference Warhol work without charge and without challenge." And "we let scholars use Warhol imagery for just a nominal fee to cover the cost of administering the rights." Wachs told me later, "We're Lessig when it comes to artists and scholars" and "Disney when it comes to commercial use."

As Lessig states: To people who live outside the IP-extremist­ culture, this sounds quite sen­sible. But inside that culture, the foundation's values are incomprehensible.

Too often copyright is strictly enforced just because it can be, without looking at the bigger picture of what is in the best interests of both the copyright holder and the public.

Read the Wired article