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10 July 2017 | Appropriation Art: The Fine Line between a Copy and an Original Work

"Images and Texts reproduced",  XIth International IAWIS/AIERTI Conference at the University of Lausanne

Appropriation art has been subject to several lawsuits artists initiated for copyright infringement. A legal analysis of appropriation art shows the uneasiness of copyright law to come to grips with this artistic phenomenon. Because the appropriation artist copies without the permission of the copyright holder, copyright law tends to consider it as in breach of an artist’s rights. In the United States, the doctrine of fair use has brought some relief to appropriation artists, as it recognized the legitimacy of this artistic practice under certain conditions. This paper assesses how the art of appropriation challenges the law and the ways courts have found to authorise such art. It argues that apart from the US principle of fair use, no solution is available under copyright law which recognizes appropriation art as legitimate.


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