The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has awarded the College Art Association (CAA) a major grant of $630,000 to develop, publish, and disseminate a code of best practices for fair use in the creation and curation of artworks and scholarly publishing in the visual arts. The initiative will examine the intersection of copyright understandings and creative practices of the visual arts community in art production, art scholarship, museum curation, and editing of work on art. The project will be completed over four years, from January 2013 through December 2016. During this period, CAA will produce an issues report documenting the effects of copyright understandings on creative choices and write a code of best practices in fair use for the communities of practice represented by its members.
In noting the importance of this work, Anne Collins Goodyear, CAA board president, observed: “The challenges and uncertainties faced by artists and art historians today in securing rights to reproduce works of art in hardcopy and electronically—and the difficulties in knowing when the law might require securing such rights—have serious adverse consequences for creative practice. Both scholarly and artistic projects are often compromised or even abandoned because of the arduous and expensive process of clearing permissions. An improved understanding of the scope of fair use and a field-wide agreement on its application will be invaluable to all practitioners in the visual arts.”
By undertaking this critical and timely project, CAA aims to provide much-needed clarification of best practices in the use of third-party copyrighted material, and establish a practicable code of conduct for members of the visual-arts community. In order to create a code that functions across all areas of the visual arts, CAA’s fair use project will involve participants from the fields of art history, studio art, print and online publishing, art museums, and related areas.
Linda Downs, executive director and CEO of the College Art Association emphasized the association’s capacity to lead this effort: “As the premier association in the visual arts, CAA is uniquely positioned to address these challenges. CAA’s membership represents a broad range of stakeholders—including artists, art historians, photographers, curators, writers, and educators, as well as museums, editors, and colleges and universities—who will benefit from the issues report and code of best practices. The organization has a strong record of advocacy on a variety of issues involving intellectual property. Moreover, as a scholarly publisher in the visual arts, CAA is familiar with the challenges associated with the uncertainty surrounding the application of fair use.”
The efforts funded by the Mellon grant will be overseen by a Task Force on Fair Use established by the CAA board in May of last year. The cochairs of the task force are: Jeffrey P. Cunard, long-standing CAA counsel and a managing partner in the law firm Debevoise & Plimpton LLP; and Gretchen Wagner, a member of CAA’s Committee on Intellectual Property and general counsel of ARTstor. In addition to the cochairs, task force members include: Anne Collins Goodyear, CAA board president and associate curator of prints and drawings at the National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; Linda Downs, CAA executive director and chief executive officer; Randall C. Griffin, CAA vice president for publications and a professor in the department of art history at Southern Methodist University; and other CAA members with professional experience in studio art, art history, curatorial work, and copyright law.
CAA has engaged two principal investigators to lead the four-year project: Patricia Aufderheide, university professor in the School of Communication and co-director of its Center for Social Media; and Peter Jaszi, professor of law and faculty director of the Washington College of Law’s Glushko-Samuelson Intellectual Property Clinic. Aufderheide and Jaszi, who have significant expertise in successfully developing fair use codes for documentary filmmakers, dance archivists, research librarians, and journalists, will be responsible for conducting the investigatory work that will inform the report and code. Aufderheide and Jaszi will also work with a Community Practices Advisory Committee to review the report and a Legal Advisory Committee to review the code. Two project advisors—Virginia Rutledge, an art advisor, art historian, and lawyer who practices in the areas of both copyright and art law, and Maureen Whalen, associate general counsel for the J. Paul Getty Trust—will contribute expertise during all phases of the project. The task force cochairs, Cunard and Wagner, together with Goodyear, Downs, Aufderheide, and Jaszi will also serve as principal investigators.
CAA approaches this project with an established history of engagement on the issues of copyright and fair use, and gratefully acknowledges the work done in this area by allied scholarly societies including the Visual Resources Association, the Association of Research Libraries, and the New York City Bar Association Art Law Committee (ALC). With the assistance of a start-up grant from the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, awarded in September 2012, CAA recently completed a preparatory phase of the fair use project that will inform the activities now funded by the Mellon Foundation. During this preparatory phase, the task force met with Aufderheide, Jaszi, and CAA’s board of directors to discuss the research methodology and select thought leaders to be interviewed about copyright and fair use practices. Additionally, Aufderheide and Jaszi conducted twenty-five exploratory interviews with some of these thought leaders to help identify the key topics that the issues report and code should address. With this work completed, the task force and principal investigators are in a strong position to move forward with the formal investigative phase of the project.
For more information about the fair use project, please contact Janet Landay, project manager, at email@example.com (212-392-4420) or Virginia Reinhart, CAA marketing and communications associate, at firstname.lastname@example.org (212-392-4426).