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The Challenging Relationship Between Contemporary Art And Intellectual Property Rights

Contemporary Art is still seen as a luxury in the era of the digital world. In 2018, the global art market was worth 67 billion US Dollars. This same market was 64 billion dollars in 2017, which indicates an increase in the valuation. With the increase in the valuation, it has been seen that more and more people are taking up jobs in the field of contemporary art. Contemporary art has also helped people to express their views and opinions through paintings et cetera. Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) have helped in safeguarding the interests of the artists who took the pain to create art through their imagination and efforts. With the diversification of art forms and increase in competition, the artists need to have complete ownership rights over their work. 

One crucial point of conflict in contemporary art is when the artists create art inspired by other artists, will they be liable for stealing others’ work? For example, if I am an artist and if my painting is inspired by another artist, will I be held liable? The point here is where lies the line between the rights of the artists. Many will say that the person who made the original deserves the right but then every art made has been inspired by some work of another artist. We can take the examples of movies where if a director makes a postmodern drama movie, can’t we say that the director must have taken inspiration from other directors who have made movies in a similar genre? 

To solve the problem, we can use the test of sustainability to check if the said work or the art form is genuine or not. This helps in determining how much work created by the artist in question is similar to the original artist’s work. If the work or art form is completely similar, then the rights will belong to the original artist. But if the work is not very similar and there is a uniqueness and different style in the work, then the work will be accepted as the artist in question’s original work. However, many have said that rather than looking into the aspect of similarity, it is better to look into the aspect of originality. The originality of an artform can be observed through the introduction of a new essence in the work. When originality is used as the point of distinction between different art pieces, it would be much easier to determine whether the artform is copied or not because every artist has his/her quality to add to an artwork. 

Even though we have Intellectual property rights, many artists continue to face multiple issues. These are discussed below:

1. Less Knowledge About The Laws

Since IPRs are still relatively new, many people know little to nothing about IPRs. Many times, small artists end up being involved in big lawsuits against the well-established art firms because of miseducation about the IPR Laws. This is an expensive as well as a time-consuming task for the small artists who don’t have good financial support. Nowadays, Intellectual property suits are very common in cases where trademarks look similar, or similar name for artwork has been used, or a similar tagline has been used. Small artists need to be aware of these and they should make sure that their content is original and that it does not infringe upon the IPRs of other artists.

 2. Upgradation In Technology

The Internet has now become the ocean of all sorts of data. A humongous amount of files, photos, videos et cetera are available on the internet free of cost. Many times, even the original artworks are posted in online space and many new artists get inspired from those works. Here, one can question whether the artist who recreated the work has copied from the original art and has harmed the original artist’s right or not. That’s why it is necessary that technology must be handled wisely and artists should keep in mind that when they are taking inspiration from any form of contemporary art, they should ensure that the rights of the original artists are not infringed upon. 

IPRs have helped in increasing the opportunities for artists all over the world and have also promoted artists to convert their skills into new businesses. It also pushed forward those artists who used their innovation to give rise to a new form of art and helped them earn good profits on the work they’ve created. However, certain loopholes have to be checked and covered from time to time so that artists will become familiar with the laws and the regulations related to IPRs. Policies for reforms in Intellectual Property in respect to contemporary art should be promoted and discussed so that more can be done to protect an artist’s rights and promote originality.