This is where we’ll talk about Jeff Ward’s “Cloud Gate: Challenging Reproducibility.” This is another essay I’ve taught several times before and while it might seem like a bit of a tangent, I do think it’s a really interesting story/illustration of the complexities of copyright law.
“Cloud Gate” (aka “The Bean”) is a sculpture in downtown Chicago– kind of near the Art Institute and the “Miracle Mile” shopping area off of Michigan Avenue, if you’re at all familiar with that area. Just a couple thoughts to get you going:
First, I think Ward does a pretty good job of describing just how complicated these issues are, the fuzzy line between what is protected by copyright and what is fair use, and even between what is public and what is private. As this fairly short but complex article suggests, the reasons why copyright and fair use laws aren’t particularly clear is because the defining terms are slippery.
Second, I find Ward’s closing thoughts on the nature of this particular piece of art to be quite interesting– I’m not sure in terms of fair use/copyright or not, but interesting nonetheless. In the last paragraph, he points out that postcards of Cloud Gate have not sold particularly well because “Visitors prefer to photograph their own reflections, to image and imagine themselves in Cloud Gate” (74). That certainly was my experience, as this “selfie” from a couple years ago might suggest: