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January 30, 2008

Weds. morning musings…can thinking too hard hurt you?

Filed under: Morning Musings — jackie @ 9:04 am

Good morning readers…

One of the topics that we are covering in our art major orientation class is the subject of copyright and the difference between appropriation and copyright violation.

This got me to thinking about taking published books with artwork on the covers, removing the covers and sewing in blank sheets of paper then selling them. I’ve been seeing alot of these types of books for sale on Etsy lately. It’s not a copyright violation to resell a book that you bought.  By using the original covers you’re not really copying someone’s work.

Would this be a form of appropriation? Fair use perhaps? Def. repurposing but can repurposing violate copyright when it relates to artistic/creative work not bicycle spokes or old soda cans?

If I bought a painting and resold it it wouldn’t be a copyright violation but if I made a copies of that painting and used it as book covers and sold the books it would be. What if I used the actual painting as a book cover and sold it? I’ve repurposed the painting haven’t I? As working artists we need to know here that “line” so we don’t cross it.

I’m not sure this is one of those easily answered questions but I’m curious to know what you all think?

Sorry for making you use your brain so early in the morning. :) Mine is def. starting to hurt…need to get more coffee.

I hope everyone has a great day.

• • •


  1. Hmmmm, the entire process of cutting up published books and using the parts to create new things, is something I have wondered about before. When I first started seeing re-made books like that, I found it to be rather against my own sensibilities…I can’t imagine destroying a perfectly good book just to use the covers to make…a book. But it doesn’t bother me at all that people get second-hand clothing or jewelry or clocks or cars or furniture, take them apart and reuse the materials to make new things… i’m just a book-snob perhaps :D

    Comment by Rhonda — January 30, 2008 @ 11:25 pm
  2. I had posted a similar question a while ago already on the forum, it was about “up-cycling” paper bags for book covers. A friend who is an artist and curator of art exhibitions told me that the artistic re-use of products or alike is protected by the use for an artwork. But this is Germany - other countries may have another legal practice.

    I only know for sure that it doesn’t matter what one thinks of these issues when it comes to legal proceedings - “ignorance is no excuse”, I’m afraid. Also artists need to go and learn or get legal advice from a professional about copyright, appropriation, trade mark violation and whatever issues have to be considered. I think it also makes a difference if you sell these objects, and if so, declare them as “book” or “book art object” - one more commercial with the aim of making profit, the other one “just art”?

    Comment by bookarat — January 31, 2008 @ 10:35 am

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