Copyright and Digital Art Practice: The ”˜Schizophrenic’ Position of the Digital Artist


  • Smita Kheria


What is the role of copyright in the everyday social context of new, emerging and ”˜born digital’ artistic activities? Is copyright able to govern the practical behaviour of artists and creative practitioners? If not, then what or who impacts on their behaviour? This paper focuses on the interaction of copyright with the everyday life of creators working in the digital environment and discusses their ”˜schizophrenic’ position. It draws upon a qualitative empirical study with digital artists aimed at exploring their perceptions of copyright law: how they understand and manage copyright and how copyright interacts with the local circumstances of their day to day creative practice. A finding of this study was that some of the artists faced moral dilemmas and were pulled in different directions with respect to their perspectives and decisions regarding copyright. The consequence of this was a seemingly ”˜schizophrenic’ position, one that manifested in various ways – such as emphasize that ”˜copying’ cannot and should not be controlled in the digital medium but equally feeling compelled to have some control. Other artists rejected the prevention of copying in the digital domain while relying on exclusivity of copies in the analogue domain and / or denied the applicability of traditional notions of authorship to their practice while asserting the importance of attribution.