Unlearning Copyright in Artistic Practice

Lecture by Shusha Niederberger at Zurich University of the Arts, MFA Symposium „HOW TO: Copy Paste and Rights“, 20.11.2019

Copyright addresses the artwork as property, but as works of art it belongs as well to the cultural sphere, which has since the Renaissance become to be seen as a public good. And indeed, the role of copyright has been for a long time to balance these two interests. The digital has challenged a basic assumption about the nature of goods: digital goods are not scarce anymore, because they can be copied without difference to the original. This has changed a lot for both the cultural sphere, where cultural goods circulate with a speed and reach unknown before, but also for copyright, which is turning to hard- and software in consumer electronics to keep the digital goods controllable, all the while new powerful cultural industries of networked services are reorganizing the ways we access and consume digital cultural goods.

How do artists deal with these dynamics? In my talk, I will discuss digital and digitally informed artistic practises dealing with this two-sided nature of cultural production and distribution, and explore the aesthetic consequences of these strategies.