Murky Copyright

Murky Copyright

Murky Copyright

This is a screen from one of the science feeds I follow. I’m an artist, my eyes always question visual information. At the top right I see an interesting coil shape.

My art relies on uncopyrighted material. The journal is copyrighted science reporting. If I blur out the text, are the illustrations freed of their copyright? Alone, they’re meaningless. You could pair each illustration with any blur and never notice your mistake.

But a skilled scientific illustrator (rarely noted) has brought their training and insight to the making of it. Shouldn’t I honor them?

So I erase the interior explanations. It’s divorced from verbal pointers.

But still, anyone used to these diagrams can deduce that this is likely a protein. A microbiologist can probably identify more from the placement of its loops. Here I’m in the proletariat, morally free to appropriate. I assume.

Will lawyers agree? I strip the shape down to its outline and fill with unrelated content.

Have I earned it yet?

And then,

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