Copyright protection of digital art: Langkong Art Museum presents ‘An Intellectual Property Day’

Yixiang Zhang, China IP,[Copyright]


Langkong Art Museum presented ‘An Intellectual Property Day’ during the ‘Linear’ exhibition in celebration of the publication of the 100th issue of China Intellectual Property magazine (English Edition) in Beijing on July 17. The event’s co-organizers include China Intellectual Property magazine, Beijing Sunshine Intellectual Property and Legal Development Foundation, and Zhongguancun Intellectual Property New Association. The event is meant as a communication platform for professionals in China’s cultural and artistic fields and the intellectual property sphere.

A salon with the theme of "Art Creation and Copyright Protection in the Digital Age" is held during the “Intellectual Property Day”. Zhang Jizhe, President/Editor-in-Chief of China Intellectual Property magazine, Li Zheng, Curator of Langkong Art Museum, famous curator/critique, and architect/artist Wang Qi delivered speeches. Zhang Jizhe pointed out that the theme of this event is intellectual property and art, which reflects the comprehensive characteristics of the cross-border integration of intellectual property; at the same time, intellectual property also has practical and international characteristics, that is, it pays attention to the existence of enterprises in the process of operation. Practical problems, with international commonality in management, operation, and basic systems, are areas with the smallest communication barriers in various countries/regions in the world. In view of the fact that China Intellectual Property magazine (English Edition) has published 100 issues, Zhang Jizhe thanks the co-organizers and guests for their support of this event and calls on intellectual property practitioners to connect with people in the art and culture circles to better serve them. Li Zheng was inspired by the publication of the 100th issue of China Intellectual Property magazine (English Edition) and summarized and thanked the intellectual property professionals and the media for their contributions to the copyright protection of artistic works. He also introduced the exhibition schedule. Changfeng thanked the guests for participating in the linear art exhibition and intellectual property theme day activities. He also pointed out that based on his own curatorial experience, he pointed out the current domestic artists, curators, critics, collectors, etc. Compared with foreign counterparts, the application still has much room for improvement, especially in terms of copyright pricing and other aspects that urgently need the guidance of professionals in the intellectual property field. It is hoped that the Chinese intellectual property community and the art world can cooperate more closely in the future. Wang Qi explained the conception and creativity of the exhibits in this linear art exhibition, combined with her own work experience as an architect, and discussed the critical importance of intellectual property rights to the protection of cultural and creative industries. At the same time, she wished the art exhibition and the theme day a complete success.

The highlight of the “Intellectual Property Day” is the salon "Art Creation and Copyright Protection in Digital Times".

Liu Shaojun, associate researcher of the Law Institute of the Beijing Academy of Social Sciences, is the host of the salon. She pointed out that Chinese artists used to pay little attention to copyright protection issues. With the promulgation and improvement of various intellectual property laws, regulations, and related policies, China's intellectual property protection has continued to increase. The public's awareness of intellectual property protection has also increased. However, there is still a lack of understanding of protecting the economic interests and reputation value of their artworks.

Li Yujun, art critic/media planner/Langkong Art consultant, sorts out the development context of modern art creation methods and industrial ecology in China and focuses on explaining the new characteristics of art creation in the digital age and the unique problems of copyright protection brought to domestic artists. He mentions that since the 1980s, China's modern art creation methods and industry ecology have undergone three stages of changes: In the 1980s, domestic modern art creation was characterized by grouping and distinctive ideological colors, and at the same time, learned more from Western contemporary art; in the 1990s, domestic artists began to incorporate more personal life experience and emotions into modern art creation, and the individuality and artistic ontology of domestic contemporary art creation became more prominent. In the 21st century, the creation of domestic artists has become more self-oriented, liberalized, and diversified, especially with the advancement of technology, the emergence of new art forms and creative media such as contemporary media art and digital art, allowing artists to work in more fields self-expression and creation. Digital art is a subversive art form. This aspect is embodied in that it transcends the writing context of art history. It should be examined from the perspective of the combination of art and technology; on the other hand, it is embodied in that its creative process is no longer just. It reflects the individual subjectivity of the artist and contains more elements of shared experience and audience intervention. At the same time, in the digital age, with the rapid development of copy technology, plagiarism and plagiarism of artworks occur more and more frequently. Artists are also becoming more aware of the critical relationship between artworks and intellectual property protection, but there are relevant rules for intellectual property protection. However, blind spots exist in common with methods, and the help of professionals in intellectual property is urgently needed.

Starting from the purpose and essence of intellectual property protection, Su Chi, former president of Beijing Intellectual Property Court, explains the importance and innovation path of copyright protection in digital times. He points out that intellectual property is not an abstract existence but a vital tool closely related to business life, especially the high-level business field. The purpose and essence of protecting intellectual property rights are to protect the interests of human wisdom in creation and technological innovation. The combination of the fire of wisdom and the oil of interests promotes the development of human intellectual property undertakings and presents a prairie fire. Today, China has developed to an unprecedented high level regarding original innovations' scale, volume, and status. The industry and the public are increasingly experiencing the importance of intellectual property rights. And protection refers to the direct cause of the national key work level. As far as artistic creation is concerned, art and technology have consistently grown together throughout human history. From calligraphy and painting art that relies on a pen, ink, paper, and ink, to photography and film art spawned by technological advances in the Industrial Revolution, to today's digital art, technological innovations in materials and creative techniques have continuously promoted the revolutionary nature of human artistic creation. Changes have continually put forward new requirements for the traditional copyright legal system to keep pace with the times. At the same time, compared with conventional artists, modern artists have become more aware of the importance of copyright protection, and their actual need for intellectual property protection is growing day by day. In addition, from the perspective of the whole society, protecting the intellectual property rights of artistic creation is conducive to promoting the development of the social economy, culture, education, and people's spirit. Its role can even go hand in hand with science and technology. All of the above require us to explore ways of intellectual property protection that adapt to the development trend of artistic creation in the digital age. We must rely on certain legal rules and standards to stimulate the orderly development of artistic creation in the digital age. Still, at the same time, we should also realize that law and art belong to different fields, and judicial professionals cannot judge art from the legal rules alone. The copyright protection of creation requires an in-depth understanding of the operating rules of the art industry to provide appropriate protection for artistic creation and avoid excessive restrictions or excessive laissez-faire. In any case, always respect and protect the originality of the artist, put the respect for artistic creation into respect for the subjectivity of the artist as a person, and combine the laws of operation of the market and the commercial economy to explore the development of artistic creation through a series of specific cases. The boundary of copyright protection is always a criterion that should be kept in mind by the art and legal field in the digital age.

Tao Qian, director of the Research Center for Property Rights Innovation and Competition of China University of Political Science and Law, gave a keynote speech on the challenges of the digital age to the traditional copyright legal system and the countermeasures. She pointed out that since the establishment of the legal copyright system of human society, it has always been affected by changes in the creation and dissemination of works. The changes in the creation and dissemination of works are brought about by technological progress. Some distinctive new features have emerged in creating, using, and disseminating works in the digital age. In terms of creation, these unique characteristics can be summarized into three aspects, namely: diversification of creation methods (for example, from traditional manual creation to today's creation by new tools such as computers), and the collaboration of creative subjects (for example, the composition of music works), writing, arranging, singing, etc.), customization of creative motivation (for example, from the individual improvisation of the creator to the market entity entrusting others to create customized works with specific goals and needs, etc.). The new characteristics of use and dissemination can also be summarized into three aspects, namely: diversification of means (for example, literary works are adapted to games, movies, and other forms of dissemination), channel complex (for example, distribution, rental, exhibition, screening the cross integration of multiple communication channels, such as performance, information network communication, etc.), and the interaction of various subjects (the creators, users, and communicators of works participate in the dissemination of works, such as immersive drama and games). In order to adapt to the above-mentioned new features and the new models and problems they bring, the legal copyright system also needs to be revised accordingly to re-adjust the balance of interests between the creators of works, disseminators, and the public. In this process, judicial practitioners need to clarify the new problems in the field of copyright in the digital age and which can be solved under the existing copyright legal framework. For example, can the right of broadcasting include the right of information network dissemination? How to identify the originals of photographic works and artworks created through electronic means? These are genuinely new issues in copyright in the digital age and require corresponding innovations in the legal system. However, issues such as whether the copyright rights related to cloud concerts should belong to the information network transmission right or the broadcasting right, and the copyright ownership of the cooperative works can be properly resolved within the traditional copyright legal framework through the path of legal hermeneutics. All in all, in the digital age, the fundamental solution to copyright-related issues has always been to carefully grasp the balance of interests of all parties and promote the complementary and common progress of industrial development, rights protection, and technological progress.

Ren Siguo mainly expresses his personal opinions on the relationship between artificial intelligence technology and artistic creation. He mentioned that in the digital age, with the rapid progress of mobile Internet, big data, artificial intelligence, and other technical means, the digitization of artworks has developed to an unprecedented depth, and the types of works such as music works have almost been completely digitized. At the same time, the development of artificial intelligence technology has also iterated to the point that ordinary people can't imagine, which makes people today must re-examine the copyright issue of artificial intelligence creations. For works, especially artworks, the aesthetic value should be first, while philosophical thoughts and emotions should be second in the judging criteria. Artificial intelligence creations generally have aesthetic value, and the point of contention is whether they can be endowed with ideological and emotional value by artificial intelligence. In the era of weak artificial intelligence, people generally think that artificial intelligence has no emotions. But now, some studies have shown that artificial intelligence has gradually approached humans, at least in terms of semantics and emotions. It is foreseeable that in the era of vital artificial intelligence, it may not be unable to inject emotions into creations. At this time, whether the ownership of artificial intelligence creations should belong to the artificial intelligence program designer, operator, or the program itself has become an intriguing question. Ren Siguo also pointed out that at present, the respect for artistic creation and its intellectual property protection is still insufficient. It is necessary for creators to develop more benign interactions with the public and participate in artwork creation, appreciation, and comment to deepen the bilateral relationship. Understand each other and maintain a healthy balance of interests.

Yao Huanqing, associate professor of Renmin University, discusses the imitation and plagiarism of artworks in digital times and identifying originals and copies. He points out that, as technological progress, imitation is a significant direct source of artistic innovation, and all artistic creations are built based on predecessors. There is no natural, one-size-fits-all clear boundary between imitation and plagiarism of artworks, and legal practitioners need to identify them separately in each case. In addition, with the profound changes in the means and methods of artistic creation in the digital age, it is difficult for digital artistic creation to differentiate between original and duplicate like traditional creation. However, blockchain technology, especially the emergence of new digital artworks such as NFT (Non-Fungible Tokens), is expected to change the status mentioned above. Yao Huanqing also put forward his opinions on the significance of intellectual property protection in artistic creation in the era of artificial intelligence. He believes that the legal copyright system encourages artistic creation because human society always needs more new knowledge and new art to serve itself. New knowledge and new art have been scarce in human history for a long time. However, in the digital age, the emergence of artificial intelligence technology may enable the mass production of new knowledge and new art, thereby eliminating the scarcity of new knowledge and new art. In such an era, distinguishing between human works and artificial intelligence creations and protecting human artistic creations is no longer just the need to enhance the common well-being of society but is more related to the ultimate value and meaning of human existence.

The latter part of the salon is a Q & A between the speakers and the audience covering tops such as the relationship between artistic creation and legal protection, the application blockchain technology in the storage of works. The last bit of the “Intellectual Property Day” is a guided tour of all the works exhibited. 26 Chinese and foreign artists have their works with shared linear characteristics on display. 

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