FUTURE ANTERIOR JOURNAL
COPIES, COPYRIGHT and PRESERVATION
Special Issue co-edited by Ines Weizman and Jorge Otero-Pailos
Deadline: September 15, 2014
Future Anterior invites essays that explore the relationship between copyright and preservation from a historical, theoretical and critical perspective. Both copyright and preservation laws are aimed at protecting unique human achievements, but they point to different, even opposing threats. Whereas copyright is meant to protect private interests from public encroachments, preservation mostly aims to safeguard the public interest against private forces. But as the categories of private and public are redrawn under the pressures of globalization, what challenges and opportunities lay ahead for preservation?
Both preservation and copyright law attempt to answer a basic question: Who has the right to make a copy? This question has a long but unexplored history within preservation. Carlo Fea, the Italian neo-classical jurist and preservationist, passed laws to forbid overzealous collectors form taking original sculptures from churches and using poor replacement copies as payments for cash-strapped priests. But as copying techniques improved, it became common to place copies outdoors and to move original works of architecture and sculpture inside museums (think of the copies that replaced the original capitals of the Doge’s Palace, or the replica of Michelangelo’s David in Piazza della Signoria). These days, preservation and copyright are both challenged by new modes of digital production, which put new pressure on the notion of absolute authorship and ownership.
What makes mechanical architectural copies so interesting is that, even though they emerge at the same time as reproductions in other fields, they escaped the same association as representative phenomena of modernity. Yet, just like the print, the photograph, the film or the digital file, architectural copies are a product of architecture and a media form in themselves, part of an endless series of ‘aura-less’ multiplications. Legal scholar Bernard Edelman has shown how in nineteenth-century France photographs were at first considered to be mere mechanical reproductions of reality, and hence in the public domain. It was only when photography became accepted as an artistic practice that it received legal protection and ‘the real as object in law [became] susceptible to appropriation, sale and contracts’. To what degree does contemporary art still serve as the measure and instrument for the regulation of copies? Can copyright law help explain the opposition to consider preservationists as artists, or even authors? Essays may investigate these questions, as well as critically analyze modes and practices of appropriation in preservation as they compare to other fields.