Matthew Hutson, English 111, Brown University (1998)
Looking through the perspective of visual art raises many questions about ownership in the digital world -- ownership of authority, ownership of information, and ownership of method. Perhaps more importantly, the very separations between these properties begin to fade. When manipulating an image with Photoshop, how much of the creative process has been precluded by the tools that Kai Krause and others have programmed into the software? Thus content and method merge. Photographs, once a reliable sign of objective authenticity, defy the third-person nature of its perspective by bending to the will of a Photoshop user, merging authority with both method and content. Credit disperses among the photographer, the programmer, the graphic designer, and nature herself for providing the original scene.
Beyond esoteric concerns of creative input, the issue of reimbursement for borrowed intellectual property weighs heavily on the artist. When asked in an interview with Kyle Shannon about concern over copyright violations, digital artist Antonio Mendoza gave this reply:
Some suggest that we leave artists alone to use whatever materials they like, and then judge their work on its originality. If an artist blatantly uses the work of someone else, this will become obvious and the artist will receive little respect for the piece. If the appropriation is not so obvious, then the original artist should point this out to the viewers rather than suing the appropriating artist for money. With accurate knowledge of a piece's sources, the viewer can then decide whether the appropriating artist's modifications are worth praise. Shannon asked Mendoza, "At what point of digital manipulation does a procured image (or sound or video) become the property of the manipulator?", and Mendoza replied: