CAA News Today

The following text is from a blog post by Shira Perlmutter, director of the United States Patents and Trademarks Office (USPTO).

We Want to Hear from You on Copyright Policies in the Digital Economy

The Department of Commerce’s Internet Policy Task Force (IPTF) last week issued a green paper on copyright, and I’d like to take a moment to highlight the paper’s core content and goals. The paper, titled Copyright Policy, Creativity, and Innovation in the Digital Economy (Green Paper), represents the most thorough and comprehensive analysis of digital copyright policy issued by any administration since 1995. Along with the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), the USPTO played a key role in its production, from gathering public comments starting in 2010 through the paper’s drafting and release.

The Green Paper calls for new public input on critical policy issues that are central to our nation’s economic growth, cultural development, and job creation. It is intended to serve as a reference for stakeholders, a blueprint for further action, and a contribution to global copyright debates. As promised in the paper, we will soon be reaching out to the public for views on a variety of topics. Please stay tuned for announcements about how to share your thoughts, insights, and recommendations.

ArtTable, a national organization dedicated to the visual arts and women’s leadership in the field, launched a year-long series of public programs on April 8 with “The Digitization of the Art World: Are New Media Artists Transforming Art Practice and How We Think About Art Itself?” Heather Corcoran, Executive Director of Rhizome, opened the event at the School of Visual Arts Beatrice Theatre in Manhattan with a historical overview of new media and a description of trends within this practice. Framed by this introduction, panel members described diverse methodologies: Marina Zurkow presented animations and installations that probe the relationship of humans to the rest of the natural world; Wafaa Bilal, an artist displaced from Iraq after two wars and now living in New York, described his confrontational, interactive performance piece Domestic Intention (2008); and Brad Troemel discussed his relationship to art-making as a subversion of the gallery/museum complex through the remediation of images in the open space of the internet.

I attended this presentation with the College Art Association’s executive director, Linda Downs, to gain further understanding of how artists understand and consider rights in the works they produce, particularly as it relates to fair use. Unfortunately, little mention was made of this concept during presentations. Nor was it defined in any depth during the panel’s wide-ranging opinions about ownership. Alexandra Darraby of the Art Law Firm, whose practice focuses on guiding creators towards licensing their works, was the final presenter prior to the panel discussion. Darraby’s presentation only briefly acknowledged that fair use exists, even though it is an important part of the Copyright Act. Rather, she referred repeatedly to creators having a monopoly on their works, and asserted the need for artists to ensure that their work is properly licensed so that it can be monetized and protected. Those in the audience without knowledge of their legal right to reuse a copyrighted work under certain conditions could not have left the presentation with a sense of that possibility. While Darraby’s postulated thesis adheres to some works created by, on, or through the internet, it did not represent the full range of legal advice for artists.

For example, Zurkow’s work makes use of ActionScript coding that she develops with programmers. In Mesocsom (Wink, Texas) (2012), thousands of lines of script create a dynamic scene that changes based on constraints such as season or time of day. This type of complex, collaborative project should define the roles and rights of the participants to clarify future use of the project and any financial benefit that might derive from it. A polar opposite legal assumption is found in the work of Troemel, who upends the idea of ownership, like many of his generation, through constant reframing of material found on the internet. Troemel articulates his vision through his writing: “On one hand exists a utopian vision for art on the Internet, a world where intellectual property is part of a commons, where authorship is synonymous with viewership, and where the boundary between art and everyday life is fluid” (“Art After Social Media,” lecture given at MoMA PS1, March 22, 2012). Zurkow’s and Troemel’s distinct approaches are only two examples in which an understanding of fair use might benefit both creator and user.

The College Art Association is working to define a balanced consideration of fair use principles through its Task Force on Fair Use, supported by the long-standing CAA Committee on Intellectual Property. Recently awarded a preliminary grant from the Samuel H. Kress Foundation and a multi-year grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, CAA embarked last fall on a comprehensive research project to identify and disseminate best practices in the fair use of copyrighted works under current U.S. law. The resultant code will represent the ways in which creators and their works are protected by law and act as a guide for when and how a copyrighted work may be reused by another artist or by a scholar, teacher, or museum professional. The project will include interviews and focus groups comprising representatives from every corner of the arts community and will be carried out by Pat Aufderheide, University Professor and Director, Center for Social Media, School of Communication, American University; and Peter Jaszi, Professor of Law and Faculty Director of the Glushko-Samuelson Intellectual Property Law Clinic of the Washington College of Law, American University. Consultants to the project include Gretchen Wagner, formerly General Counsel, ARTstor; Jeffrey Cunard, CAA Counsel and Partner, Debevoise & Plimpton LLP; Virginia Rutledge, art historian and copyright lawyer; and Maureen Whalen, Associate General Counsel, J. Paul Getty Trust.

ArtTable should be applauded for posing complex questions in a public forum. Answers to the problems faced by artists in considering authorship, collaborative work, open source, and the purpose and value of art today aren’t easily answered. In a post to Rhizome’s events page, Meredith Niemczyk posed a question about this presentation: Are there new strategic, economic, and legal models for applying protections in digital art without stifling originality? (Rhizome Community Announcements, Monday, March 25, 2013, The answer to this question is yes. The qualification of this answer must be defined in such a way to promote creativity while protecting ownership rights and the fair use of works by third parties.

ArtTable’s next panel, “How Are Museums Using Digital Technology to Advance Education and Exhibition Practices?” takes place on Monday, June 24, 6:00 p.m., at the Sony Wonder Lab, 550 Madison Avenue.

Filed under: Intellectual Property — Tags:

Flying over the Grand Canyon after a meeting at the University of Washington with digital humanities faculty and marveling at the fractal-like patterns that moving water has sculpted out of solid rock, made me think of the slow but steady impact digital humanities centers and institutes are having on academic structure of research and evaluation. Project by project new research tools, interdisciplinary and collaborative research and new approaches to problems at these centers are altering the once rock-solid academic structures of research, peer review and evaluation.

The Scholarly Communications Institute (SCI) called a meeting on March 11 and 12 in partnership with the Consortium of Humanities Centers and Institutes (CHCI) and centerNet an international organization of digital humanities centers with a focus on the topic of “Rethinking Humanities Graduate Education.” The meeting focused on developing pilot projects that would leverage the specific strengths of CHCI and center Net. Possible consortial courses and cross-institutional cohorts of scholars were two of the many ideas presented. Individuals from 15 universities and the American Association of Museum Directors, the New York Council for the Humanities and College Art Association. (For a summary of the meetings and a participants list see:

Digital humanities centers, institutes and computing centers have been an important presence at universities since the 1990’s first as resources to provide technical assistance to students and faculty and now as strong academic centers of intellectual activity unto themselves offering courses, research products, developing frameworks and digital tools, fellowships, and public programs. Each center has a different disciplinary and technological focus depending on their original mission and purpose. Many of the centers grew out of language, literature and history disciplines. Now the commonality is in method and approach rather than specific disciplinary content or theory. Visual arts projects are being developed in DH centers by graduate students and faculty who have been working on cross-disciplinary research projects.

Computing centers such as the University of Victoria Humanities Computing and Media Center offer digital tools, one-on-one assistance in developing a project and introductory courses on organizing collaborative digitalinitiatives. The University of Virginia’s Scholar’s Lab offers students technical assistance on digital research to advanced students and faculty, graduate fellowships, workshops, and the opportunity to work on collaborative digital projects. The programs at the Center for History and New Media at George Mason University are targeted to teachers and faculty of history with a huge number of online resources as well as sponsoring dozens of digital history projects as well as free tools such as Zotero, a research tool to help gather, organize and analyze data and images. The concept for THAT Camp (The Humanities and Technology Camp) held at the College Art Association Annual Conference in New York which focused on digital tools, data bases and collaborative projects in art history this past February, originated with Columbia University Libraries and Smarthistory at Khan Academy. Plans are to offer THAT Camps at the CAA Annual Conference again in Chicago next February 2014. The Alliance for Networking Visual Culture grew out of film and media studies. Their multimedia research and publishing platform, Scalar has been utilized for the anniversary projects of  CAA’s The Art Bulletin (“Publishing The Art Bulletin: developed by Thelma Thomas at the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University and of by Sheryl Reiss at the University of Southern California.

Other well established digital humanities centers offer digital resources, publications, programs and tools. The Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities, as their website indicates, “ is jointly supported by the University of Maryland College of Arts and Humanities and the University of Maryland Libraries, MITH engages in collaborative, interdisciplinary work at the intersection of technology and humanistic inquiry. MITH specializes in text and image analytics for cultural heritage collections, data curation, digital preservation, linked data applications, and data publishing.” (While I was attending the SCI Anne Collins Goodyear, CAA President was presenting at MITH on her digital curatorial work at the National Portrait Gallery.)

The wide-ranging discussions touched upon collaborating on introductory courses for first year graduate students; changing standards to assist in evaluating collaborative digital projects and dissertations and promotion and tenure; how DH can contribute to lowering the time-to-degree; interdisciplinary collaboration; developing shared meaning between humanities researchers and technologists unfamiliar with the humanities; teaching basic skills required for digital research and analysis in either keystone or capstone courses;  and assessing the role that DH centers provide to graduate students who are considering non-faculty career alternatives.  Ideas came forward on how the academy can introduce non-faculty career options to graduate students from shadowing professionals to internships at museum and non-profit public service institutions where they can apply the knowledge gained in graduate school.

There was general agreement on offering keystone courses on basic programming, how to approach a collaborative digital research project, and database organization and analysis. The University of Victoria Computing Center offers introductory courses in utilizing digital tools to entry level graduate students and to students who sign up for summer courses, or 5 day courses at learned society conferences.

The new standards mentioned at the meeting for evaluation of digital scholarship included the Modern Language Association’s Guidelines for Evaluating Work in Digital Humanities and Digital Media and the digital dissertation guidelines at George Mason University that were established in 2000. Tara McPherson, Associate Professor, School of Cinematic Arts at USC indicated that her graduate students are submitting digital dissertations but still feel compelled to provide approximately 120 pages of written and printed documentation on the process of building the digital tools that they used for research and analysis to the dissertation review committees. Tara also emphasized that her students, enter her program highly skilled in the use of digital technology and are able to devote greater effort in content study.

According to the Humanities Indicators statistics on time-to-degree for tertiary degrees in the humanities in the US is 10.93 years. The United States is ranked fifth internationally (behind Germany at 17 years, Japan, Hungary and Korea) . Todd  Presner, Professor of Germanic Languages, Comparative Literature, and Jewish Studies and Director of the Center for Jewish Studies and Chair of the Digital Humanities Program at UCLA floated a concept which became shortened throughout the day and a half meeting as “the twenty-year dissertation.” The idea is not to lengthen the time-to-degree average but to develop one collaborative digital project that several graduate students would work on in part. Each student could develop facets of a major problem that could encompass several disciplines and they could also contribute to enhancing the digital tools that could expand research, analysis and construction of databases.

The time-to-degree issue also raised the question of what is expected of DH graduate students. Are faculty expecting new knowledge or is the expectation that graduate students master problem solving, project organization and leadership qualities to prepare them for faculty positions or for non-academic positions where they can apply their academic knowledge on a daily basis? The reality check was the question as to how many current dissertations actually produce new knowledge.

Kevin Franklin, Executive  Director, Institute for Computing in Humanities, Arts, and Social Science (I-CHASS) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has developed cross-disciplinary projects where shared meaning is developed between programmers and framework and platform builders who are coming from STEM and humanities disciplines.  I-CHASS is also reaching out to governmental policy makers in the Americas to provide collaborative projects that address major global challenges related to the environment, educations and cultural preservation where STEM and humanities researchers are collaborating with international government entities. Two projects that involve image recognition will be presented at future CAA Annual Conferences.

CAA will be seeking opportunities to bring DH courses, workshops and presentations of new digital tools and visual arts research projects to future annual conferences. We hope to find support for more open access publications such as The Art Bulletin and digital projects on the Scalar open access publishing platform.  In the meantime, for those who are unfamiliar with the offerings of DH centers, I would recommend visiting the DH centers at your colleges and universities or reading up on DH in the latest issue of Visual Resources: An International Journal of Documentation (29:1-2) and Debates in the Digital Humanities, Ed. Matthew Gold, University of Minnesota Press, 2012 (and check out the review of this book by Paul Jaskot also in the latest issue of Visual  Resources).

Filed under: Publications, Research — Tags:

This year marks the one hundredth anniversary of the first issue of The Art Bulletin, CAA’s flagship journal of art-historical scholarship. “Publishing The Art Bulletin: Past, Present, and Future,” an ambitious online project, has just launched to celebrate the occasion. The project employs a deep exploration of the journal’s hundred-year archive to stimulate thinking about the forms that a future Art Bulletin might take.

Three outstanding essays—by Ananda K. Coomaraswamy (1939), Mehmet Aga-Oglu (1945), and Suzanne Preston Blier (1993)—stand at the heart of the project, which also features an array of features possible only in a digital format. Thelma K. Thomas, an associate professor in the Institute of Fine Arts at New York University and chair of the Art Bulletin Editorial Board, created the website in collaboration with the Scalar project of the Alliance for the Networking of Visual Culture and the University of Southern California, which helped fund the project.

Filed under: Art Bulletin, Centennial, Publications — Tags:

Ray Kurzweil predicts in How to Create a Mind: The Secret of Human Thought Revealed (New York: Viking, 2012) that, by 2030, intelligent computer devices will be scaled down to the size of blood cells. Kurzweil is a leading inventor (the CCD flatbed scanner, omnifont optical character recognition, a print-top-screen reading machine for the blind, and the first text-to-speech synthesizer, which led to the development of Siri) and director of engineering at Google. He believes that computer technology will soon replicate and exceed the functions of the human neocortex to a point where the barriers between the brain and computer will be totally permeable.

Until that time art historians, artists, and curators continue to rely on their neocortices to carry out creative work and research but with the help of extraordinary tech tools. CAA’s conference next week provides introductions to new technologies in the visual arts.

  • THATCamp (The Technology and Humanities Camp) is being held two days prior to the Annual Conference to bring art historians, curators, and artists who publish together to focus on new technologies and means of accessing them for group and individual projects
  • For those who could not attend THATCamp, a summary will be held during the conference at a panel session on Thursday, February 13 at 9:00 AM
  • There are sessions throughout the conference that address the history, future, and current use of digital resources (“OS.XXI: Art’s Digital Future” on Wednesday, February 13) and online teaching (“Issues Surrounding the Online Foundations Experience” on Thursday, February 14). See
  • The Art Bulletin’s one-hundredth anniversary project is taking the form of a digital review. Thelma Thomas, chair of the Art Bulletin editorial board and associate professor of art history at the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, has developed a multimedia review of the journal in partnership with the Alliance for Networking Visual Culture. The preview of the project will be presented at the Annual Members’ Business Meeting on Friday, February 14
  • ARTspace will be screening new digital work in the Media Lounge throughout the conference, in addition to hosting artists’ interviews and sessions

Keynote Address: Rob Storr, dean of the Yale School of Art, will address the state of the visual arts in the keynote address.

Fair Use: Come to the Committee on Intellectual Property session on Saturday, February 16 to hear about the progress of CAA’s fair-use project with Peter Jaszi, Pat Aufderheide, Jeffrey Cunard, and Chris Sundt.

Attention Artists: The American Institute for Conservation (AIC) will provide free conservation advice and assistance to artists whose work was damaged by Hurricane Sandy. Please visit the table across from registration on Thursday and Friday.

These are just a few of the highlights of CAA’s conference this year. There are over 120 sessions on a very broad range of topics in the visual arts. I look forward to seeing you there!

Filed under: Annual Conference — Tags:

Registration for CAA’s THATCamp has now closed.

CAA invites interested participants to attend its first Humanities and Technology Camp (THATCamp) “unconference” on digital art history, taking place on the two days immediately preceding the Annual Conference: Monday, February 11, NOON–5:00 PM, and Tuesday, February 12, 9:00 AM–3:00 PM. The event will take place at Macaulay Honors College, City University of New York, located at 35 West 67th Street in Manhattan.

CAA’s THATCamp is free and open to graduate students and scholars at all career stages. The only requirements for attendance are an active interest in how digital technology is affecting the discipline of art history and the humanities in general and a willingness to share your questions and ideas. Space is limited! Register today to secure your place. Graduate students may apply for a limited number of fellowships funded by the Samuel H. Kress Foundation to lessen the cost of travel expenses to New York.

The purpose of the CAA unconference is manifold: to increase awareness of existing digital projects in art history, architectural history, and archeology; to foster a community of scholars invested in digital art history; to identify digital tools that may be used to improve future CAA conferences; to facilitate technology workshops and training sessions; and to provide support for art-history professionals pursuing nontraditional career paths.

“Unconference” is a term that may be new to people in art and academia but has, in fact, been around since the late 1990s. It is used to describe a participant-driven meeting that in many respects is the opposite of a traditional academic conference. Formal presentations or a set program of speakers are not determined beforehand. Unconferences generate productive encounters among diverse groups of people, an experience that can be compared to being a member of an improvisational acting troupe.

THATCamp itself, however, is a recent invention, founded in 2008 at the Center for History and New Media at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, as a meeting for technology and humanities professionals—including professors, librarians, and museum curators—to share ideas and collaborate on projects. The camps have since sprung up in locations across the United States and internationally.

CAA has joined JSTOR’s new Register & Read program, which offers free, read-online access to a wide-range of academic journals to independent scholars and researchers. The service is designed to make scholarship available to those not affiliated with a subscribing institution by allowing them to register for a MyJSTOR account.

CAA is pleased to contribute the full back run of The Art Bulletin and Art Journal, through 2008, to an expanding, eclectic list that includes BOMB Magazine, Film Quarterly, Modern Law Review, and American Journal of Sociology. All articles from The Art Bulletin and Art Journal during this time will be available for individuals to read and, in some instances, to download and purchase as a PDF file.

Since JSTOR launched Register & Read in January 2012, approximately forty publishers have contributed material from seventy-seven journals to the beta site. The user-friendly program mimics the experience of a library by allowing visitors to store up to three articles on a virtual shelf for two weeks before exchanging items. Feedback is key to improving the borrowing service that Register & Read provides. JSTOR plans to perfect the functionality of the program and enlarge its scope to meet the unique research needs of the scholarly community.

The Committee on Intellectual Property (CIP) is pleased to announce the posting of the revised and expanded Intellectual Property and the Arts pages on CAA’s website. CIP monitors and interprets copyright legislation for the benefit of CAA’s various constituencies. In so doing, it seeks to offer educational programs and opportunities for discussion and debate in response to copyright legislation affecting educators, scholars, museum professionals, and artists.

The section is divided into the following eight categories: US Copyright: Fundamentals & Documents; Visual Art/Visual Artists; Publishing in the Visual Arts; Libraries, Archives, and Museums; Image Sources and Rights Clearance Agencies; Fair Use Guidelines, Practices, and Policies; Copyright Outside the United States; and Legal Assistance.

Education is essential for informed communication. The committee hopes that the resources presented in the updated pages will answer your questions about intellectual property and inform your discussions and debates.

In accordance with CAA’s practice to regularly update its Standards and Guidelines in the fields of art and art history, the Board of Directors adopted two documents at its meeting on February 26, 2012, that address fair use of visual resources in teaching, scholarship, and libraries.

Christine Sundt, editor of the journal Visual Resources and cochair of CAA’s Committee on Intellectual Property, presented the Statement on the Fair Use of Images for Teaching, Research, and Study, authored and published by the Visual Resources Association (VRA) in 2011, and the Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Academic and Research Libraries, produced by the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) in 2012.

Fair Use of Images for Teaching, Research, and Study

Visual Resources Association: Statement on the Fair Use of Images for Teaching, Research, and Study is a helpful tool for educators and scholars who rely on images for teaching, research, publishing, and other academic work. The statement describes the six uses of images that fall within the doctrine of fair use according to United States copyright law: the use of images for the purpose of teaching; the preservation and transferring of images from one format to another; the creation of online image resources for students; the use of images by students in the context of the classroom; the sharing of images among cultural or educational institutions; and the inclusion of images in theses and dissertations.

The statement is intended to instill confidence in the scholarly community by clarifying the many educational and academic contexts to which fair use can be applied. The statement, reviewed by a committee of legal experts and copyright scholars who have determined the accuracy of each example of fair use, is by no means exhaustive on the subject of fair use, and it only addresses copyright laws within the United States.

Fair Use of Images for Academic and Research Libraries

The Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Academic and Research Libraries (2012) describes eight examples of common library practices that are affected by the rules of copyright and fair use. Because the prevalence of digital technologies in higher education has changed the way in which students and faculty use libraries and offer access to academic coursework, the code urges institutions to clarify and update research database systems and to transfer archive material deemed as “at risk items” into a digital format. The code also discusses the need to reproduce library material for disabled students and faculty without bias.

Like the VRA statement, the ARL code does not claim to cover the topic of fair use exhaustively. Rather, its objective is to expand understanding and engagement with copyright laws for librarians and library users. The code was created through the process of interviewing sixty-five librarians across the United States who represented a wide spectrum of academic and research libraries.

In 2013, Visual Resources: An International Journal of Documentation intends to publish a special issue dedicated to the topic of “Digital Art History.” For full details on the issue, please visit the Taylor and Francis webpage for the journal.

At present, the field of art history has amassed considerable knowledge concerning how to digitize texts and images and make them widely available in well-structured formats. However, the state of the field with respect to scholarship in the digital age is less clear. Visual Resources seek to answer the following questions and more:

  • What kind of art-historical scholarship is now possible in the digital environment that could not be done before?
  • What new types of questions can be posed now?
  • How might digitized resources (texts and images) be used to produce innovative scholarship?
  • How might the digital environment allow scholars to address existing or “traditional” questions with new evidence or conclusions?

While exploring what is now possible, it is also important to consider the challenges that the field of art history still faces with respect to scholarship in the digital age. Contributors might also ask what prevents the field of art history from widespread adoption of the new research tools and techniques associated with the digital humanities.

Visual Resources invites researchers and educators in art history and visual studies to submit proposals for this special issue. Abstracts should be 750 words in length and be accompanied by a one-page CV that includes up-to-date contact information for the proposed contributor(s). Abstracts and CVs should be sent to Murtha Baca and Anne Helmreich, coeditors for this special issue. Deadline: March 23, 2012 (5:00 PM PST).

Meet Baca, Helmreich, and representatives from Taylor and Francis at the upcoming CAA Annual Conference in Los Angeles on Friday afternoon, February 24, 2012, 2:30 PM, at the Routledge booth in the Book and Trade Fair. Refreshments will be served at the booth.