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Sunday, April 23, 2006

Google violates "moral rights" of artist Joan Miro

On April 20th, birthday of Spanish surrealist Joan Miro, Google inducted him into the ranks of such influential people as Martin Luther King Jr, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and Leonardo da Vinci by changing their logo to depict his style. The Artists Rights Society (ARS), representing the artist's family, demanded that Google take down the logo. Google complied, issuing a statement that they did not believe they had violated the artist's rights. Theodore Feder, president of ARS, claimed "it's a distortion of the original works and in that respect it violates the moral rights of the artist."

A distortion of a surrealist? Moral rights of the artist? Where is the harm? Where is the immorality? If anything, the estate of the artist increased through exposure of the public to his name and his style. What is immoral about honoring someone by imitating them for one day? Aside from the fact that ARS is promoting an utterly surreal point of view, I doubt Miro would appreciate the intervention.

If you, dear reader, would like to email Mr. Feder and ask him why he discourages sharing the culture of an artist he supposedly represents, please be my guest.


Dear Theodore Feder,

I was recently taken a back by the ARS's protest over Google's use of a style in their lettering to report on Joan Miro's birthday. Artist have never been accorded a monopolistic right or moral right to control something as broad as a style. The thought that controlling a style is even possible is some what surreal in its self. Furthermore, the use by google is clearly Fair Use.

Art is fluid, not static to be locked away by the owners of copyright. Art is dependant on others being able to use the styles of previous artist and create something new and different. Locking away culture with exceedingly broad claims of copyright is not only harmful to the reputation of the artist and estates you represent, but also harmful to a creative society in general which could have benefited from the use of Miro's style Google employed.

Many individuals I have spoken with about this controversy were not even aware who Joan Miro was before google commemorated his birthday, your actions have limited the number of individuals who will be exposed this artwork and possibly harmed the value of his estate.


Brian Rowe
freedomforip.org, Director

By Brian Rowe, at 12:24 PM  

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