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ART, INFORMATION AND COPYRIGHT LAWS IN THE AGE OF DIGITAL REPRODUCTION

B. Gatenby

American University of Sharjah (UNITED ARAB EMIRATES)
The artist David Hockney paints landscapes on his iPad, emails them to friends, who then pass them on to other friends. Each image is virtually identical, which raises the questions, which is the original work, and how can copies of copies be considered piracy? Walter Benjamin theorized an “aura” of authenticity to an original work of art in the age of mechanical reproduction; however, his metaphysical assumption has no foundation in the age of digital reproduction (if it ever did). Since digital reproduction destroys the dichotomy between original and copy, how can copyright holders claim piracy when these copies are disseminated across the Internet? In the age of digital reproduction, notions of copyright infringement, piracy, and theft should be seen as obsolete. Many artists, writers, and musicians give away their works freely on their websites, which are then digitally copied and disseminated by others throughout the world. This is not considered piracy, but the free flow of information. In our digital age of virtually reproducible identi-copies of the “original” work of art, a new understanding of the relationship between producers and consumers of information and notions of copyright must be formulated.