here is a short text I wrote yesterdayhttp://www.jimpunk.com/www/texts/copy.html
YOU CAN'T COPY ME!
Jimpunk - February 2003
Like many people, I like the idea that www is a place where duplication has=
= no limit. Anybody can download a media and re-use it. Sometimes you are=
fa= ced with legal problems, this is part of the game.
But also, I like the idea that there are things you can't copy.
One of the first things I'm thinking about is conceptual art. It may seem s=
= trange, since concepts are at first glance the easiest thing to copy. B=
ut i= n the field of art, this is not true, because when you copy, you ge=
nerally = slightly modify the piece, for many reasons. And conceptual pie=
ces have ver= y little latitude to be modified: if you "add" something, t=
hen, following t= he "less is more" principle, the piece is worse. And if=
you "substract " so= mething, then the piece can be even better and you =
were right to do it. So = it's not copying anymore, it's the way art evol=
ves. (of course "adding" and= "substracting" are not easy-to-deal-with co=
The closer you are to the concept, the less you will be copied, or at least=
= , if you get copied, the other pieces will probably be weaker, in the s=
ense= that extra considerations (as more design or more typo games or wha=
tever) = will perturbate the concept.
For those who don't get what conceptual art is, just think about it the oth=
= er way round: if your piece can't be easily copied and re-used without =
any = depreciation, then it might well be conceptual art.
An example : selfportrait by Val=E9ry Grancher. I take this piece as an e=
= xample because there has been a controversy about it. There is a very s=
imil= ar and very interesting piece, which had been done before by alunda=
le (the = piece does not seem to be online anymore), but which was not pr=
esented as a= selfportrait. The piece by Val=E9ry, even though it looks=
very much like t= he other one, points out the concept of self in a new =
way, and by an infini= tely thin move, it opens new horizons. This piece =
was a new start and it wa= s the first piece of the search art project.
Now there is a second way not to be copied, which could be considered as co=
= nceptual art as well, but in another manner. If your piece involves so =
gene= ral a field that it can't be more general (this is not "minimal con=
ceptual"= art as before, but "maximal conceptual" art ;-), then, followin=
g the princ= iple "you can't have more than more", there is no way to cop=
y your piece.
An example : gogolchat by Jimpunk and Christophe Bruno. Gogol is a fictic=
= ious character whose speech tends to the sum of all speeches of mankind=
. Th= ere is no way to improve Gogol and you can't plagiarize this ultima=
te plagi= arist. He is unique. He just exists (well you can still try to =
find another= mankind...).
The third way is quite funny to me. It would be to produce pieces so stupid=
= and contingent that nobody would be interested in copying them.
An example : I can't think of any right now (actually I do think of a cou=
= ple of things but I'd rather not mention them as I don't know whether t=
he a= uthors would appreciate to be listed in this category) but I will t=
ry to ma= ke such a piece one day.
Finally, the best way of all is not to show your work. If you can't find me=
= , you can't copy me! I heard that christophe bruno has done such a piec=
e, but of cou= rse I have never seen it. If you find it, send me an email.
P.S. As I write these lines, and related to the very topic of this text, th=
= ere is some legal fuss about another piece by Val=E9ry Grancher: Jeru=
salem.= The organization which owns the Israelian webcam is threatening C=
to demand their ISP to cancel the hosting account b=
ecause they w= ould violate The Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998.=
There is a long = list now of such affairs involving net artists and pri=
vate companies, but i= t seems they are more and more frequent.
In 2000, the British artist Donna Rawlinson Maclean tried to patent herself=
= . Well, I'm going to do the same: everything I do, every single thought=
I h= ave, I will copyright, and I will forbid you to use them. You can't=