Sunday, April 20, 2008

Animal Copyright?

According to this video, photographer Gregory Colbert is promulgating a weird hybrid of copyright protection and environmentalism through his Animal Copyright Foundation, which at one time was registered in the UK Intellectual Property Office. Now I'm no lawyer, but it seems that what Colbert is talking about is the right of publicity rather than copyright in his analogy to advertising spokespersons.

In a similarly themed TED talk, "poachers" are equated with those who infringe on the intellectual property of others, and "webcrawlers" and "bloggers" are also expected to be "stewards of this idea."

To those who study digital media, Colbert is also known for taking great pride in creating serene and surreal images of animal-human interaction without relying on any images that are "computer generated or digitally collaged." I must confess, however, that while I was impressed with the analog craftsmanship of many of Colbert's lush sepia-toned photographs in the Ashes and Snow exhibit, when the show came to Santa Monica, I was turned off by what seemed to me an all too similar iconography to the visual culture of the sexist colonial fantasies of the previous century that displayed undressed, mute women of color with European men and identified native peoples with nature rather than culture.

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