Joel Kunnen takes a look at the advantages of alternative copyright in the digital age
How we use images and information is changing, therefore, copyright is changing. The image has migrated away from an object of economic value towards one of heightened cultural capital. Social media has developed in such a way that sharing information has become synonymous with sharing images. Infinite copies of images act as citations to shared opinions and data points. Yet the image is not always tied to the fate of a descriptor, it has also been freed from its referent. The image is loose and free to form its own meaning in the slurry of an image-sopped society. As artists, you are at the forefront of this evolution in societal structure. This article examines how a culture of prosumers (producing-consumers) fueled by rapidly evolving technologies of reproduction are changing how we use and reuse images, how this usage is in conflict with the historical development and lawful applications of copyright and finally the alternatives to copyright that have developed to bring our modes of production back in line with our codes of law.
A New Use of Imagery
Once a tightly controlled representational thread of information, images are traded freely and openly, often without regard to the copyright bearer thanks to technological advances in reproduction. Counter-intuitively, this has produced a kind of golden-era in image production over the past half-century and even more so today. Image aggregators such as Tumblr have paved the way for new practices in curation that have ultimately begun to create new aesthetic trends and tensions. One instance of this is the arts tumblr Jogging, a stream of images which has built its own aesthetic sourced from a community of users. Jogging represents a specialization of the practice that has become a normal mode of functioning for many internet denizens. Another force of image alterity comes in the form of machine generated imagery such as new media art, glitch art, 3-d modeling art and the like, something which has come to be termed the New Aesthetic. This alteration in the production and reception of imagery of course leads to concerns over value, both economically and substantively...