A Thousand Eyes: Media Technology, Law and Aesthetics

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Production stills from Judy Radul, World Rehearsal Court, 2009.


A Thousand Eyes: Media Technology, Law and Aesthetics is an anthology published by Sternberg Press and Henie Onstad Art Center in Oslo, accompanying Judy Radul’s exhibition “World Rehearsal Court.” Radul’s work is a research project into the model of the International Criminal Court, complexly considering the effect technology and new media have had on our justice systems. Her work is a four-hour, seven-channel video installation that includes a courtroom staged and shot in a gymnasium, with a scripted text that takes the forms of vignettes, so that “you never get a whole picture” (Judy Radoul in an interview for Artforum), while including the viewers, who are filmed and projected onto screens that form part of the installation.

Edited by Radoul and Oslo-based curator and art historian Marit Paasche, A Thousand Eyes introduces a different way of discussing the idea of law and the modern justice system in a way that is different than commonplace representation of law and lawmaking in the visual arts. Whereas the form of the trial has been commonly used in artworks, performances, and symposia in the contemporary art world (I am thinking, for example, of Hila Peleg’s film documenting Anton Vidokle and Tirdad Zolghadr’s A Crime Against Art [The Madrid Trial], where the artist and curator put themselves on trial for “collusion with the bourgeoisie and other serious accusations”), the discussion of law and lawmaking in the arts has largely focused on subjects of intellectual property, artistic freedom, and censorship (for example, in Daniel McClean’s (ed.) excellent book The Trials of Art [London: Ridinghouse, 2007]). This book introduces and promotes an intricate web of ways of thinking about the relationship between visual media and the law.

In the introduction to the book ...

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Comment: There’s No Such Thing as a Compulsory License for a Photo

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My friend Andy has a terrific post up about his ordeal settling with the photographer Jay Maisel over the threat of a copyright lawsuit. Chances are if, you’re reading this, you know about that. If you haven’t ready Andy’s story, go and read it and then come back.

There’s one pointed question I’ve seen crop up in a number of conversations about the settlement:

Isn’t it wrong that Andy chose to pay the licensing fees for the music but not for the photograph?

This question makes the assumption that Andy could have paid the licensing fees to Maisel like he did for the music. He couldn’t have. This is because Jay Maisel refused to license the image and there’s no compulsory license for photography like there is for musical compositions.

A compulsory license is what it sounds like: the owner of the underlying musical composition is required, by law, to license it to anyone who wants to use it at a predetermined rate. This prohibits song writers from picking and choosing who gets to perform their works. It also allows Andy to license, at a fair rate, the underlying song compositions from a Miles Davis album to make a new album of original recordings (remember, copyrights to recordings are different from copyrights to the compositions of a song).

The copyright of photographic works, unlike works of music composition, is not subject to a compulsory license.

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