Ideological Vandalism of Public Statues: Copyright, The Moral Right of Integrity and Racial Justice

Marie Hadley, Sarah Hook, Nikolas Orr

Abstract


This paper considers the regulation of ideological vandalism by the Australian copyright and moral rights regimes in the context of the defacement of public art statues that occurred in Australia and overseas during the Black Lives Matter protests in 2020. Statue vandalism is approached as a form of anti-racist or anti-colonial iconoclasm that contributes to discourse around previous and continuing racial inequities. Law is approached as a form of symbolic action that can consolidate the alienation and othering of vulnerable groups in public spaces. The authors investigate whether, when public statues are within the copyright term, intellectual property rights symbolically devalue anti-racist discourse by de-prioritising agonistic art encounters. It is identified that copyright’s exclusive rights do not render direct physical interventions with the statue unlawful, but that the moral right of integrity held by the statue’s creator is problematic. The moral right of integrity privileges the connection between the artist and their work as a matter of reputation, and any public interest in the graffitied counter-monument is irrelevant to a finding of infringement, which in our view justifies reform. The paper concludes that public spaces should be democratic spaces, and that intellectual property law in post-colonial states and states with a history of racial injustice should do more in support of this goal.

Full Text:

PDF

References


REFERENCE LIST

A Articles/Books/Reports

Adeney, Elizabeth, The Moral Rights of Authors and Performers: An International and Comparative Analysis (Oxford University Press, 2006)

Adler, Amy, ‘Against Moral Rights’ (2009) 97(1) California Law Review 263

Aide, Christopher, ‘A More Comprehensive Soul: Romantic Conceptions of Authorship and the Common Law Doctrine of Moral Right’ (1990) 48(2) University of Toronto Faculty of Law Review 211

Aston, Margaret, England's Iconoclasts (Oxford University Press, 1988) vol 1 ‘Laws Against Images’

Barthes, Roland, ‘The Death of the Author’ in Vincent Leitch and William Cain (eds), The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism (WW Norton, 1968) 1466

Bell, Macalester, ‘Against Simple Removal: A Defence of Defacement as a Response to Racist Monuments’ (2021) Journal of Applied Philosophy 1

Boime, Albert, ‘Perestroika and the Destabilization of the Soviet Monuments’ (1993) 2(3) ARS: Journal of the Institute for History of Art of Slovak Academy of Sciences 211

Bond, Catherine, ‘There’s Nothing Worse Than a Muddle in all the World’: Copyright Complexity and Law Reform in Australia’ (2011) 34(3) University of New South Wales Law Journal 1145

Bruce, Caitlin, Painting Publics: Transnational Legal Graffiti Scenes as Spaces for Encounter (Temple University Press, 2019)

Clay, Richard, ‘Bouchardon’s Statue of Louis XV: Iconoclasm and the Transformation of Signs’ in Stacy Boldrick and Richard Clay (eds), Iconoclasm: Contested Objects, Contested Terms (Ashgate, 2007) 93

Close, Garrett, ‘The Early History of the Black Lives Matter Movement, and the Implications Thereof’ (2018) 18(3) Nevada Law Journal 1091

Cohen, Stanley, ‘Property Destruction: Motives and Meanings’ in Colin Ward (ed), Vandalism (Architectural Press, 1973) 23

Copyright Law Review Committee, Report on Moral Rights (Report, Attorney General’s Department, 1988)

Copyright Law Review Committee: Report to Consider What Alterations are Desirable in the Copyright Law of the Commonwealth (Report, Attorney General’s Department, 1959)

Crisp, ‘One Person’s Vandalism is Another’s Masterpiece’ (2015) Special Art Issue Griffith Journal of Law and Human Dignity 67

Dulong de Rosnay, Melanie and Pierre-Carl Langlais, ‘Public artworks and the freedom of panorama controversy: a case of Wikimedia influence’ (2017) 6(1) Internet Policy Review 1

Durkheim, Emile, The Division of Labor in Society (Free Press, 1965)

Frowe, Helen, ‘The Duty to Remove Statues of Wrongdoers’ (2019) 7(3) Journal of Practical Ethics 1

Gamboni, Dario, The Destruction of Art: Iconoclasm and Vandalism Since the French Revolution (Reaktion Books, rev ed, 2018)

Garsha, Jeremiah, ‘Red Paint: The Defacing of Colonial Structures as Decolonization’ (2019) 5(1) Transmotion 76

Gibson, Johanna, ‘No More’ (2020) 10(3) Queen Mary Journal of Intellectual Property 271

Gilchrist, Stephen, ‘Surfacing Histories: Memorials and Public Art in Perth’ (2018) 38(2) Artlink 42

Glover, KE, Art and Authority: Moral Rights and Meaning in Contemporary Visual Art (Oxford University Press, 2018)

Hazel, Yadira Perez, ‘Bla(c)k Lives Matter in Australia’ (2018) 126(1) Transition 59

Hemel, Daniel and Lisa Larrimore Ouellette, ‘Public Perceptions of Government Speech’ (2017) 33 The Supreme Court Review 33

Holsworth, Mark, Sculptures of Melbourne (Melbourne Books, 2015)

Holub, Robert, Reception Theory: A Critical Introduction to Reception Studies (Methuen, 1984)

Iljadica, Marta, ‘Street Art and the Properties of Resistance’ in Lucy Finchett-Maddock and Eleftheria Lekakis (eds), Art Law Power: Perspectives on Legality and Resistance in Contemporary Aesthetics (Counterpress, 2020) 198

Kwoba, Brian, Roseanne Chantiluke, and Athinangamso Nkopo (eds), Rhodes Must Fall: The Struggle to Decolonise the Racist Heart of Empire (Zed Books, 2018)

Lai, Ten‐Herng, ‘Political Vandalism as Counter‐Speech: A Defense of Defacing and Destroying Tainted Monuments’ (2020) 28(3) European Journal of Philosophy 602

Latour, Bruno, ‘What Is Iconoclash? Or Is There a World Beyond the Image Wars in Bruno Latour and Peter Weibel (eds), Iconoclash: Beyond the Image Wars in Science, Religion and Art (MIT Press, 2002) 14

Lerer, Marisa, ‘Banners, Bridges, Stencils and Christmas Trees: Creating and Concealing Aesthetic Protest Actions in Argentina’ (2018) 8(2) Public Art Dialogue 198

Lim, Chong-Ming, ‘Vandalizing Tainted Commemorations’ (2020) 48(2) Philosophy & Public Affairs 185

Loughlan, Patricia, ‘The Right of Integrity: What is in that Word Honour? What is in that Word Reputation?’ (2001) 12(4) Australian Intellectual Property Journal 189

McGarry, Aidan, Erhart, Itir, Eslen-Ziya, Hande, Jenzen, Olu and Umut Korkut, The Aesthetics of Global Protest: Visual Culture and Communication (Amsterdam University Press, 2020)

Marschall, Sabine, ‘Targeting Statues: Monument “Vandalism” as an Expression of Sociopolitical Protest in South Africa’ (2017) 60(3) African Studies Review 203

Meisenhelder, Thomas, ‘Law as Symbolic Action: Kenneth Burke’s Sociology of Law Author(s)’ (1981) 4(1) Symbolic Interaction 43

Nguyen, C Thi, ‘Monuments as Commitments: How Art Speaks to Groups and How Groups Think in Art’ (2019) 100(4) Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 971

Rees, Sebastian, ‘Statue of Robert Towns’ (2020) V A Contested Histories Occasional Paper

Sainsbury, Maree, ‘Parody, Satire, Honour and Reputation: The Interplay Between Economic and Moral Rights’ (2007) 18 Australian Intellectual Property Journal 149

Sarraute, Raymond, ‘Current Theory on the Moral Right of Authors and Artists under French Law’ (1968) 16(4) American Journal of Comparative Law 465

Savage, Kirk, Standing Soldiers, Kneeling Slaves: Race, War, and Monument in Nineteenth-Century America (Princeton University Press, 1997)

Shahvisi, Arianne, ‘Colonial Monuments as Slurring Speech Acts’ (2021) 55(3) Journal of Philosophy of Education 53

Stevens, Quentin, Karen Franck and Ruth Fazakerley, ‘Counter-Monuments: The Anti-Monumental and the Dialogic’ (2012) 17(6) Journal of Architecture 951

Timmerman, Travis, ‘A Case for Removing Confederate Monuments’ in Bob Fischer (ed) Ethics, Left and Right: The Moral Issues that Divide Us (Oxford University Press, 2020) 513

Tsai, George, 'The morality of state symbolic power' (2016)42(2) Social Theory and Practice 318

Vanderveen, Gabry and Gwen van Eijk, ‘Criminal but Beautiful: A Study on Graffiti and the Role of Value Judgements and Context in Perceiving Disorder’ (2016) 22 European Journal of Criminal Policy Research 107

Young, Alison, Street Art Public City: Law Crime and the Urban Imagination (Routledge, 2014)

Young, James E, ‘The Counter-Monument: Memory Against Itself in Germany Today’ (1992) 18(2) Critical Inquiry 267

B Cases

Adams v Button [2002] QSC 223

Boomerang Investments Pty Ltd v Padgett (Liability) [2020] FCA 535

Lange v Australian Broadcasting Corporation (1997) 189 CLR 520

Meskenas v ACP Publishing Pty Ltd [2006] FMCA 1136

Perez & Ors v Fernandez [2012] FMCA 2

Prise de Parole Inc v Geurin, Editeur Ltee (1995) 66 CPR(3d) 257 (Canada: Federal Court, Trial Division)

Prise de Parole Inc v Geurin, Editeur Ltee (1996) 73 C.RR. (3d) 557 (Canada: Federal Court of Appeal)

Snow v Eaton Centre Ltd (1982) 70 CPR (2d) 105

C Legislation

Copyright Act 1968 (Cth)

Criminal Code Act 1899 (Qld)

D Treaties

Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works, signed 9 September 1886, 828 UNTS 221 (entered into force 5 December 1887)

E Other

Bowrey, Kathy, Catherine Bond, and Mehera San Roque, ‘Moral Rights and Public Art’ (Conference Presentation, Centre for Media and Communications Law Conference Melbourne, Australia, 25–26 November 2010)

Chomicki, Chloe, ‘Townsville Man Fined for Vandalising Statue of Colonist Robert Towns by Painting “Blood on his Hands”’, ABC News (online, 18 September 2020)

Duncan, Alasdair, ‘NSW Greens Staffer Convicted Over Spray Painting Captain Cook Statue in Hyde Park’, PedestrianTV (online, 18 July 2020)

Habib, Sadia et al, The Changing Shape of Cultural Activism: Legislating Statues in the Context of the Black Lives Matter Movement (Report, Runnymede Trust, 2021)

Kozaki, Danuta, ‘NSW Government to Consider Tightening Laws After Second Captain Cook Statue Vandalised’, ABC News (online, 15 June 2020)

McCammon, Sarah, ‘In Richmod Va., Protestors Transform a Confederate Statue’, NPR (online, 12 June 2020)

‘Robert Towns’, Monument Australia (Web Page, 2020–2021)

Scarbrough, Elizabeth, ‘Burying the Dead Monuments’, aestheticsforbirds (Blog Post, 18 June 2020)

Shineberg, Dorothy, ‘Towns, Robert (1794–1873)’, Australian Dictionary of Biography (Web Page, 2006)

Siddique, Haroon and Clea Skopeliti, ‘BLM Protesters Topple Statue of Bristol Slave Trader Edward Colston’, The Guardian (online, 8 June 2020)