By Jonathan Culp
Have you ever read a zine that was made partially or entirely out of magazine clippings? Have you watched an activist video that used footage from the evening news? Perhaps you’ve danced to a sampled rhythm track? If your answer is yes, then you should probably get to know Appropriation Art, a new advocacy group determined to protect collage artists from impending doom.
America-haters may suffer upset stomachs when they learn that Canada’s copyright laws are even worse than big daddy’s – at the States nominally recognize the principle of “fair use,” while Libs and Cons alike have put Canada’s speech rights in rollback mode. With this in mind, more than 600 artists and supporters have signed Appropriation Art’s online petition, explaining the urgency of copyright reform and asking for a meeting with Heritage Minister Bev Oda.
The petition’s clarion call – that “Contemporary culture should not be immune to critical commentary” – should strike a chord with anyone who sees zines as a way of talking back to the one-way lecture of corporate media. So you may be surprised to learn that the initiative has been publicly spurned by the advocacy group Canadian Artists’ Representation (CARFAC), who call such talk “alarmist” and ask, “If artists are not paid for what they create, why would anyone make art?” Think about that one for a minute, and then check out Appropriation Art’s petition – still accepting endorsements – at www.appropriationart.ca.