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After UniquenessA History of Film and Video Art in Circulation$
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Erika Balsom

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780231176934

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231176934.001.0001

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Copyright and the Commons

Copyright and the Commons

(p.106) 4 Copyright and the Commons
After Uniqueness

Erika Balsom

Columbia University Press

This chapter interrogates how artists’ moving image has grappled with the increased ridigification of copyright that has occurred over the last two decades. Many artists champion the freedom to reuse copyrighted materials, but fail to interrogate the particular circumstances that it make possible for them to do so without retribution, while simultaneously avoiding an engagement with the significant encroachments on fair use and the public domain that have been implemented as part of new copyright legislation that seeks to control the unruliness of digital reproduction. As a counterpoint to such positions, this chapter examines Ben White and Eileen Simpson’s Struggle in Jerash (2009), a work made by repurposing a public domain film of the same title made in 1957 in Jordan. Simpson and White contest the increasing privatization of visual culture, insisting on the wealth of the cultural commons precisely as it is under threat.

Keywords:   public domain, copyright, poor image, bootleg, found-footage, fair use

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