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To what extent can we claim...

Sep 28, 2011

    1. ...these dolls as 'art'?

      Okay bear with me here, I know it sounds silly but I'll go into a bit more detail. I was thinking about plagiarism and copyright law and illegal doll copies today. I was also thinking about what constitutes art, and whether or not repurposed art (such as "The Urinal") is really art or if it's plagiarism. We often say our dolls are art--some of us anyway! :sweat--and of course, faceups and custom outfits and the like could be considered a form of art. But having presumably bought the wig, eyes, head, and body from a company... are we repurposing them and therefore allowing them to fall under fair use, or are we still somehow 'stealing' from the company when we assume our dolls as art?

      A better example would be putting up a Soom tiny in a museum. You may have painted it, and made its clothes and wig and eyes and maybe even modded it a bit. But the main structure still remains property of the company--if someone started recasting Soom dolls, we and Soom would be at their throats in a heartbeat! Does this mean that doing this would be stealing art?

      Now, I'm not sure if this is totally clear (I had Philosophy today and my brain is numb from cold medicine :doh), but I think it's an interesting question to raise. I myself am not entirely sure of the answer. And that's where you come in...
       
    2. Is it the same as painting on a canvas? I do that for a living and I don't credit the canvas manufacturer with its construction. I don't think it is quite the same though. Someone carved modeled and created their way to a doll and while they may be very available ie, RS or BBB doesn't mean I can just take that creation whatever I do to it.

      If I used a bjd (an intention of mine very shortly) as my "canvas" then I think I would state that I did not make it. Mostly I don't want to claim skills I don't have and it feels wrong to let people assume that. I would/will credit the company in the exhibition notes. I would also if necessary give credit to any other artists/creators for any inspiration I get from their art whether they are dollers or painters or whatever...
       
    3. I see the bolded term come up often, and I truly do not think it means what people so often think it means.

      "Fair use" as pertains legally to copyright has nothing to do with 'what we would think is a fair way to use the item', it is actually a very specific subset of use. Specifically, that a certain percentage of an original copyrighted work can be quoted or displayed principally for purposes of eduction, review, or satire.

      You can find the legal definition for the US in the copyright code here: http://www.copyright.gov/fls/fl102.html Laws in other countries will, naturally, vary.

      Pardon my specificity, but this really is one of those terms that gets thrown around the internet in a manner that makes it pretty clear people don't understand the actual legal doctrines behind it. It's a failing of the term itself, IMHO, because it implies a common sense definition that actually isn't true at all. I'm not certain whether you're specifically attempting to refer to the legal concept of fair use as outlined in copyright law or using it as a more generalized term for 'a use you would consider reasonable', but since the two often tend to mean substantially different things, and this subject addresses the legal issue of copyright, it seemed best to point that out right in the beginning. :)

      Quick edit: The best place to look for actual legality here would be in the areas of collage art. It, like what you describe, focuses on assembling found items/etc., and there are more resources in that area that would pertain more specifically to the kind of things we do with our dolls. :)
       
    4. Honestly, I think of this in very simple terms. When I read folks stating they believe BJDs are works of art it is because they are referring to the dolls themselves, as they have been sculpted by the original artist, as pieces of artwork-not because they customized it themselves. Or a face-up is art, not because the artist created the doll but used it as a canvas for applying their paints and pastels. *shrug* I see very few folks going around claiming their specific doll is more of a piece of art than someone else's simply because of the wig they chose or the eyes they put in.
       
    5. I believe that dolls are sold under an unstated 'creative commons' type of contract: you can do what you want with them and make them your own, but don't claim that the doll source material was created by you. taking one of my dolls: Lief may be Lief, but underneath his Lief-ness, he's still a Buddydoll Raphael. So because Buddydoll (Well... R-a on Dream, now I suppose) owns the license to the sculpt I should credit them when I post pictures of him.
       
    6. As an example of what I believe my friend made a complete puppet of me. I made its clothes, I painted it, I added some parts to it, but I do not say that I have made it or its my creation. I just add 'I made the clothes etc' but I want the full credit to go to my friend as he designed it, cast it, strung it etc.
       
    7. Once you have purchased your Soom doll, the doll does not belong to Soom. It belongs to you. Anything you do with the day, including painting it, requires some form of creativity from you. The more creativity, the more you claim your doll as art.
      Soom does own the DESIGN of the doll. This is not the same thing as owning the dolls itself. And while you are not allowed to recast the body because this is an infringement on their copyright rights, you would be legally allowed to do something like reverse-engineer the body.

      Personally, I think the claim that our dolls are art is strengthened by the level of customization possible and the fact that we transform them from 3D art into 2D art by taking photographs of them. I am 100% totally unconvinced that Soom or Fairyland or anybody else could tell me not to make an art book of my doll photographs and sell them (as some people seem to think is the case). Once you buy the doll, it's your 100% to do with as you wish. The company's right to their design end at recasting and the creation of bootleg dolls.
       
    8. Ah, technically they can take umbridge. Part of the contract you agree to when you purchase the dolls is that you will not reproduce them for profit. 2D digital image reproduction of the sculpt (photography) is reproduction. It's a legal grey area, yes, but when you are taking a photo and reproducing it in the form of an artbook you cannot sell that artbook unless given express permission by the doll company in question. (This is, sadly, different to artistic inspiration and creative design law, hence the reason why there's such legal inactivity in the Mijn Schate issue.) The legal owner of the sculpt design must consent if you are selling photos of dolly.

      It's similar to DVDs. You buy a DVD of a movie, you own it, it's yours. However, you are not allowed to broadcast that DVD. It is for private, home use only. you are not allowed to make copies or sell existing copies. You are not allowed to edit the footage and sell the edited footage.

      Now Dolly: You buy a dolly, you own it, it's yours. It's for private, home use only. You are not allowed to make copies or sell existing copies. You are not allowed to sell photographs of dolly for profit.
       
    9. Actually under US law that would be considered a "derivative work" and may be allowed in the purchase price of the doll, ie the purchase of the doll may be a license that allows derivative works within certain categories. You'd have to ask the company itself for it's understanding of the use of photos as a derivative work.
       
    10. I think yes, dolls are art. But they're not art you created. They may be art you've modified, with faceups, etc. but you didn't sculpt them. It's like buying a painting, and perhaps adding a bit here and there. It might be different, unique, and you most certainly payed for it so that it's yours, but you didn't create it. So no, I don't think you should put it in a museum.

      As for photography of the doll, this is where I hit a bit of a gray area. When you photograph a model, you didn't make the person but it's still considered art. So I think photographing dolls should be considered art, for the composition and merits of the photograph, not just how pretty the doll looks. If you go to a museum and take a picture of a painting and try to sell the picture that's infringement. But you bought the picture and used it in a photograph that was less about showing off the picture and actually had artistic merit, where does that fall? I have a similar problem with dolls. I wouldn't know where to draw the line. You can certainly take photographs, and I'm sure displaying them falls under fair use. But what about selling pictures of the dolls?
      Personally, I think since dolls are something you have to be able to interact with to experience, it's a bit more cut and dry than a picture of a painting. That's iffy. But with a photo, you are not reproducing the experience of owning a doll with the viewer, so I don't think it's really hurting the original creator of the doll. Of course, you don't claim that you made the doll (which is why I always include the make of the doll in the AC of my photos), just like if you draw it, you don't claim it's an original drawing. You should always pay respect to the creator. But in the case of selling doll pictures, I personally think it's okay. And unless the doll company specifically states that you are not allowed to sell photos containing their dolls (I know at least one did say this a while ago) then I'm okay with it
       
    11. They are art -- an interesting kind of art as a lot of artistry happens with the sculptors, yet the dolls are often finished by their owners. It's only a problem if you claimed you sculpted a doll that you didn't. It's ok to claim the parts that you did do yourself such as the faceup, clothing, whatever. Plus there is art that you can create using the dolls such as photography that focuses on the composition that you put together rather than just the doll itself (though you may need to get the companies' permission before making a profit off of the photos). I think the main thing is that if you are in the position to show off your doll as a piece of art in a public setting to give credit where credit is due so that there isn't confusion about what you created with the doll and the making of the doll body itself.

      ETA: I should say that I have no trouble considering them some type of art. However, people argue about what is art all the time, and there is no black and white answer.
       
    12. when I saw BJD are art, I don't mean in any way that I am an artist. I paint them, but badly. some people do some freaking amazing work on faceups that can be considered art, but when I say these dolls are art, I mean that the person who sculpted them is the artist :) they are so beautiful and realistic and not easy to make!
       
    13. ^This! Yes. This was exactly what I was about to get at. A person doesn't have to be the actual artist to claim that something's art. And I think a lot of BJD people describe their dolls as art in this sense--the way I could just as easily own a print, or a painting, someone could come by and call it a waste of money, but I'd defend it by saying, "Hey, now. This is art."

      "Art" could also be a short-hand way of saying "art(istic) outlet"--because that's what it is for a lot of people, too, with faceups and sewing and photography. I don't see how it's any sort of plagiarism or whatnot, unless someone flies around saying, "This is a doll that *I* SCULPTED AND MADE!" but that's...silly. :lol:
       
    14. I think BJDs are art, and I think the sculptors and face up artists are artists, too. They're not necessarily art for galleries (unless it was a gallery of Volks Dolls owned by Volks (or in one of their stores). Without a face up, the dolls are rather plane (to me), so I think we sort of further the work done by the sculptors by creating our own kinds of art with them.

      (It's late, so I hope I'm making sense...)
       
    15. I think a couple of rather different questions have got tangled up together. Perhaps it would help to separate them out.
      • In what ways are bjds art?
      • What are the legal issues involved if someone wants to display or exhibit or sell a piece of art that includes a doll made by a doll artist or bjd company?
      The first question is about creativity and imagination. The second question is about copyright law and, although we can discuss on DoA what we think is fair and right, ultimately these issues will be decided by lawyers based on existing law. (And what seems fair to you and me may not come into it.)

      In what ways are bjds art? I think we can agree that the original sculptors are artists and the dolls are their art. But then the dolls inspire the imaginations of doll people who go on to produce photographs or faces or clothes or modifications or stories -- all kinds of things that the original sculptors never dreamt of.

      The fact that these feats of the imagination are based on an existing piece of art is pretty much irrelevant. All art comes from somewhere. To take an example at random, here's this from the Wikipedia entry on Romeo and Juliet.

      As for modern writers, Neil Gaiman and J.K.Rowling both borrow heavily from other writers -- and both have been borrowed from. I don't mean this as criticism of any author -- far from it -- it's the way the creative imagination works.

      Quite how the legal/copyright questions will develop will be interesting to see. But one point needs stressing: Asian bjds (and similar European and American dolls) are intended to be customisable. They are art which you are supposed to do something to, to make it unique and your own. In that way they differ from a painting or a DVD or a novel. Surreality pointed out the parallel between bjds and collage -- which is a good one. Bjds are a bit like a novel for which you are meant to write your own ending -- or for which fan fiction is not only encouraged but actually the main point.
       
    16. I think that generally, it is the photography ascpect of the hobby that is considered as "art"

      Making a unique doll is also an art in itself, as it takes a lot of planning and designing to do so. As well as many hours of making the actual parts for the dolls.

      What we claim as our "art" would not be the mold of the doll itself, but rather the way it looks after we have customized it to be our own.
       
    17. As an aside, I love this. I took philosophy at university and it seemed to take decades to get my brain untwisted again.
       
    18. I don't understand this question at all and certainly don't see the "debate" in it. Yes, the dolls are "art" to many collectors, however, there is no way that an artist can claim the doll as their own "artwork" regardless of face-ups, costuming, etc.. Even the photography of the dolls falls into the very grey area of copyright. This is a subject that has come up before on the forum with all manner of opinions and thoughts.

      In my mind, one cannot claim anything outside of "customization" of another artist's product.
       
    19. I was thinking of illustrating a book of short stories with the dolls I customized as the characters from the stories. It states pretty clearly in photography copyright law that it's a violation of copyright to photograph pretty much anything that isn't nature or something you created from scratch and sell it for profit and that long list included "Toys and dolls."

      Imagine if you took a photo of a Barbie and tried to sell it. Mattel would be knocking on your door in no time.
       
    20. There seems to be an idea floating about that art is somehow defined by copyright law. It isn't. Art isn't anything to do with copyright law. Art is the human imagination in action. It existed long before copyright law and, unless the human race becomes extinct soon, it will exist long after.

      Copyright law defines who can and can't make money out of certain works of art (at which it's fairly successful); it also tries to define who owns certain ideas (at which it's much less successful because it's always been hard to build walls round an idea).

      In other words copyright defines the marketing and selling of art. It has nothing to do with creating art which happens inside people's heads where laws can't penetrate. Creating art is an imaginative act and the imagination doesn't care tuppence for copyright law.