Appropriation Art: Johnson Okpaluba

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The purpose of Okpaluba’s article is to help readers understand the concept of “appropriation art”. The re-use of pre-existing materials for the use of creating new forms of art is the basic premise of appropriation art (Okpaluba, p197). The main threat this poses to copyright law is the fact that it would be difficult to enforce infringement law on such material. The author points out that the main difficulty appropriation artists’ face is the difficulty in whose rights come first – the author or the user because users recreate cultural products with access to protected copyright works (Okpaluba, p197). The central question Okpaluba seeks to address is how we define the legal interest of a copyright owner in his work.

Okpaluba discusses the concept of the ‘fair use doctrine’, and in doing so outlines three methods in which the United Sates and the United Kingdom excuse copyright infringement: 1) original work is not subject to protection; 2) the defendant did not make a “copy”; 3) the use of copied material falls within the exemption (Okpaluba, p198). Continuing in support of appropriation art, Okpaluba illustrates how users can win infringement cases because appropriation art serves as a valid function and as a means of creation and social criticism; this function allows artists to divulge a reaction from the public and interpret different meanings of cultural icons (Okpaluba, p198). Appropriation art has always existed throughout history and serves as a means of creating new forms of expression. The incorporation of other works has become mainstream and commonplace because everything has been done before, and appropriation art is a modern expression through recycled materials and ideas – hence, copyright law cannot accommodate expression because it is never authentic (Okpaluba, p200). There are three forms of appropriation: 1) using exact, protected images; 2) a collection of several sources to compile a new work; 3) use of an entire, general genre...
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