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Can photographers be plagiarists? Very interesting slide show from… - Luke McGuff — LiveJournal

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February 8th, 2007


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11:46 am
Can photographers be plagiarists?

Very interesting slide show from Slate.com. Some architectural photographs (such as the Nanpu Bridge in Shanghai, or the Flatiron building viewed from Madison Square Park) are going to be similar in tone and reference. Photographers also photograph similar subjects, whether consciously or not. The book The Ongoing Moment by Geoff Dyer looks at the history of photography from this vantage point: Examining, for instance, photographs of blind street musicians through time, from the 19th century forward.

At what point does a work of art stop being a reference and become plagiarism? If someone were to take pictures of cranes or graffiti using similar techniques to mine, I'd be all for it (these subjects lend themselves to these techniques so readily I'm surprised no one else is doing it). Whether I'm referencing or plagiarizing graffiti is a more difficult question, and is one of the reasons I've been taking more pictures of cranes recently. (Also, cranes don't send me snotty emails asking if I'm going to cut them in on the profits.)

ETA: Here is a link to a YouTube video (4:31) via chr0me_kitten that I think touches on the same subject.

A further edit: From apostle_of_eris comes this link, The Ecstasy of Influence by Jonathan Lethem

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Comments:


[User Picture]
From:apostle_of_eris
Date:February 9th, 2007 03:18 pm (UTC)
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Of course a photographer can plagiarize. Why not?
In real life, of course, there are several uncertainties in the boundary, but a fuzzy line still has two sides. Right here on LJ, the courtesies and protocols of taking and reusing those little thumbnail illos are imprecise.

This is not to address the issue of plagiarism itself. There's a big fancy biography illustrated with photographs taken by my brother, which was published without even his knowledge, much less permission, much less reimbursement.

Culturally, I expect that everyone reading this already knows that we are having a real problem with an appropriation of the commons situation. This essay just came into my view a couple of days ago. The Ecstasy of Influence (Harpers.org)

[User Picture]
From:holyoutlaw
Date:February 9th, 2007 05:49 pm (UTC)
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Thanks for that link. I've started reading it but it will take some time.


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