Christopher Sprigman has a good essay on the strange passion surrounding Richard Prince’s latest series of “New Portraits.”
Why is it that copyright seems to be the first conversation about Prince’s work that everyone wants to have? Perhaps we’re inclined to use copyright to censure Prince because of what his work tells us about ourselves right now. In particular, about how complicit we are in his actions by freely posting what we do on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter. In the age of mass media we are now exiting, it was difficult enough to protect our consciousness from the onslaught of others’ ideas and images. In the social media age we’re entering, it’s simply impossible. Which means we have to start thinking about the autonomy interests not just of authors, but of everyone else. What rights do you have to use the images that come at you in a flood you cannot escape?
Richard Prince, Instagram, and Authorship in a Digital World (Bloomberg Business)