Monday, April 15, 2013

Art of the Steal


Everyone borrows.  Phrases, motifs, shtick, even characters and plots, but at what point does it go from inspired by to stolen from or a cover to a copy?  Yes, there are ways to copywrite, watermark, and trademark, but the reality is that we are really held at the will of each other, trusting that people, they just will not steal.  And most people won't, not on purpose or with any intention of unfair gains and losses.  Most people want to perform their own works, of their own creation and be recognized for their own talents.  Sometimes there is gray area.  Sometimes there is not.  When I am in doubt, I cite my source.  Especially in dance, where so much of our work is videoed and photographed and posted and re-posted, if I am inspired by someone, I tell people that, if I borrow, I ask, and then I give them credit.  This is not always a perfect process, but most of the time, I think it works.  I think that we all mutually benefit from cross promotion and inspiration and that audiences like to know about our processes and influences. Do your own work.  Don't forget to cite your source.

Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I by Gustav Klimt was confiscated by the Nazis when they took over Austria and the painting's owner, Ferdinand Block-Bauer, had to flee to Switzerland. In 1988 the Austrian government decided to return art that had been illegally seized by the Nazis to their rightful owners. And in 2006, Block-Bauer heir Maria Altmann was returned this and four other paintings by Klimt. 

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