Art and law: Andy Warhol, Flowers

The copyright law seems to be one of the most tangled sphere of the entire legal field. Especially, if we are talking about the issue of appropriation. This paper is aimed to take look at the appropriation throughout Andy Warhol’s Flowers case analyses. It is not a secret today that Warhol’s Flowers series in 1964 were particularly appropriated from Patricia Caulfield photos, which appeared in the June 1964 issue of Modern Photography magazine. Seemingly, appropriation of photo in painting arts seems to be rather interesting and not clear violation of copyright law in fact. To get the general view and to bridge the gap in knowledge, the article of Patricia Search “Electronic Art and the Law: Intellectual Property Rights in Cyberspace” will be to the place.

Analyzed article showed out the plenty of copyright unresolved problems, which are still unprecedented and disputable to be judged.

Among all considered issues, the cases of appropriation are not forgotten. The author is clear with the point, that cyberspace development and its overall implementation became serious premise for copyright infringement.

According to Patricia Search, infringement is mostly based intersection of reproduction technologies. The medium similar reproduction is used to become the feature to identify the appropriation by “subtractive”, “totality” or “extrinsic/intrinsic” tests carrying out. The medium similar reproduction requires the same “total concept and feel” between two works existence. In this case, the fact of appropriation is evidenced. This is the main line to get sense of copyright violation in Warhol’s Flowers case, which was arranged without trial. However, the article of Patricia Search is useful to get idea about some additional issues about appropriation. For example, the author tells us about United States Copyright Act allowing copyrighted work to be reproduced without permission for the list of purposes: comment, criticism, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), research, scholarship (Search, 193). Furthermore, she outlines that the rapid development of nowadays electronic networks is dangerous to become the ground for general practice of this type of copyright violations. The main premise is still gathered around wide access and incredibly fast overall spreading. In fact, Patricia Search mentions two main dangers ”“ commercial interests and cultural assimilation. The first one is gathered around the commercial wish to get extra profits from people’s sympathy to accustomed and loved artworks. As the proof, the line of Japanese watches designed and titled under the name of Warhol’s Flowers worth to be considered. These watches are easy to obtained online today. Obviously, there are no facts that appropriation took place there, due to lack of information. However, commercial trend towards artworks, in profit making purposes, reproducing worth to be recognized. On the other hand, overall spreading of artworks in networks may entails the situation, when work of some successful artists may become popular cultural symbols that are subject to frequent appropriation (Search, 194). The author is clear with the point that not very popular artist are mostly exposed to this kind of copyright infringements. However, the problem is not less relevance all the same.

To sum up, analyzed article has showed out the list of issues that are interesting to disputed, feel need in interpretation and seek for precedents. Appropriation became extremely aggravated in the light of recent globalization trends. These circumstances challenge lawyers, scholars and law enforcement authorities for new approaches generating, and they will be found out hopefully.

Patricia Search. “Electronic Art and the Law: Intellectual Property Rights in Cyberspace” (Leonardo, Vol. 32, No. 3 (1999)) pp. 191-195.

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