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April 23, 2009

A Shepard Fairey Comment [9:25 am]

From The Moment, a New York Times blog, by Steve Heller (co-chair of the MFA Design Department at the School of Visual Arts ): Shepard Fairey Is Not a Crook

Those who rebuff Fairey’s work are angry that he misappropriates (read: steals) famous art and design works; they argue that Warhol changed paradigms while Fairey makes knockoffs. I did an interview with Fairey for his recent book, “Obey: Supply & Demand,” and I admit that on occasion he has come close to crossing the line from acceptable borrowing into murky infringement territory. But after seeing the satiric art barbs that he aimed at politics, cultural icons and bêtes noires in his exhibition at the I.C.A. (where I participated in a panel discussion on appropriation), I can say this: Shepard Fairey is not a crook.

[...] The critics argue that literal replication of the originals — and this is true of Moser and Muller-Brockmann’s imagery, among others — is ethically wrong, but that charge fails to take into account Fairey’s fundamental ethos. His is a wink and a nod toward visual culture and media monopoly. No designer with Fairey’s experience and historical knowledge could be so stupid as to pinch such visible historical artifacts and call them his own. On the contrary, Fairey sees popular visual culture in terms of what Tom Wolfe has called a “big closet” of shared objects. For him, the ubiquity of the graphic design and advertising art that he relies on for source material makes it a kind of commercial folk art. Although some of what he borrows is not as anonymously vernacular as one might like, Fairey believes that the fact that it is designed for public consumption makes it free for the taking.

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A Cyberstalking Fight [8:09 am]

A followup to an earlier post: A fighter, then victim, of cyberstalking, lawyer pushes to close loophole (pdf)

Joan Lukey, a prominent Boston lawyer who has fought cyberstalking and harassment in the courtroom, is fighting back at her own stalker.

The attorney at Ropes & Gray said she is being targeted by the same person who harassed - and continues to harass and threaten - her former client, author Patricia Cornwell. So Lukey is pushing to close what she believes are loopholes in federal law that prevent victims from tracking down their stalkers and holding them accountable.

Specifically, Lukey said plaintiffs in civil suits and victims of cyberstalking need to be able to identify their attackers and trace their whereabouts.

[...] With Lukey representing her, Cromwell sued Sachs for libel in Virginia, where both had previously lived. A federal judge ruled in 2007 that at least 45 of Sach’s statements were libelous and ordered him held in contempt of court.

But in defiance of the judge’s ruling, Sachs remains in an unknown location, attacking Cornwell, and now Lukey, on various websites. He has accused Lukey of being an anti-Semite out to persecute him and says she has worked with the CIA.

Cornwell’s civil judgment is still standing. The problem is, no one knows where Sachs is. And, Lukey said, federal laws restrict ways to find out.

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