Noted for personal use: now, it’s an old story.

I wonder about the productivity of considering photographs “reproductions.” A story about a photographer who was stopped from photographing the bean in Chicago generated a flurry of activity over an effort by the city to secure the rights to reproduce the sculpture, in the name of the “artist” of course. One commentator suggested:

My advice for the citizens of Chicago is to give Kapoor a lesson in absurdity. With its mirrored surface, Cloud Gate relies on the reflection of it’s surroundings to make it’s artistic statement. Simply copyright one of the works that surround it. Without the express permission of the copyright holder, Kapoor cannot incorporate the work into his piece. It will have to be removed, or he will need to be a little more reasonable.

You can’t copyright the appearance of something. You can, however, secure protection under trademark. Another approach would be to patent the particular “reproductive technology” of an oddly shaped reflective bean. The distinctions between copyright, trademark, and patent are confusing as hell. The core premise of copyright is to protect things from reproduction. I think it is more productive to look at photographs as productions, hence unless the technology involved is patented or the illusion conveyed trademarked, the question of “reproductive rights” seems mute. One might patent the sausage-grinder, but the sausage that comes out of it shouldn’t be allowed the same sort of protection.

I think that the approach of Chicagoland Photobloggers is perhaps the best of all. Thanks to Flickr, one can just peruse the endless variety of sausages coming out of the bean.

1 thought on “Re:production”

  1. I’d like to say that our (Chicago Photobloggers) approach was lifted straight from the Boing Boing article to do the same. Don’t want to take someone else’s credit!

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