4.0642 Art, Computing, and Computer Ethics (1/71)

Elaine Brennan & Allen Renear (EDITORS@BROWNVM.BITNET)
Mon, 29 Oct 90 09:59:44 EDT

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 4, No. 0642. Monday, 29 Oct 1990.

Date: Sat, 27 Oct 90 14:38 EDT
Subject: Art, Computing, and Computer Ethics

I recently posted the attached message on the computer ethics
list ETHICS-L@MARIST. Since the message concerns questions of
art, aesthetics and computing, I thought it would be appropriate
also to post a copy here on HUMANIST:


The Research Center on Computing and Society at Southern
Connecticut State University is in the process of developing
sample cases in computer ethics. The long-term goal is to
come up with very useful cases for ethical analysis, cases
that can serve as excellent "paradigms" for teaching and
learning computer ethics.

To move in this direction, the Research Center is always
on the lookout for sample cases that could be developed or
refined into teaching paradigms.

Anyone who knows (or cares to invent) such a case or scenerio
is invited to post it on ETHICS-L@MARIST, or else send it to
the following address: BYNUM@CTSTATEU.BITNET.

The regular mailing address is
Terrell Ward Bynum, Director
Research Center on Computing and Society
Southern Connecticut State University
New Haven, CT 06515 USA
Phone: (203) 397-4423
FAX: (203) 397-4207

Attached is RC/C&S Sample Case Number Three:

RC/C&S SAMPLE CASE NUMBER THREE: Anne is a struggling young artist
whose black and white pen-and-ink drawings have recently begun
to attract the attention of respected art galleries. Her drawings
include complex geometric shapes, imaginary animals of the sort
one would find in fairy tales, and portraits of famous film
personalities. After many unsuccessful tries at being exhibited,
Anne finally is invited to show fifty of her drawings in a gallery,
which arranges also to sell reproductions of her drawings.

Computer enthusiast Andy buys a complete set of Anne's
reproductions, and then he uses a high-quality scanner to enter
all fifty of them into his computer. Using an image-processing
program, Andy clips out sections of Anne's drawings, including
whole geometric shapes, major parts of fantasy animals, partial
faces from portraits, and so on. He calls this process "mining
artistic nuggets." He then assembles his "nuggets" into
interesting combinations, adds color here and there, and prints
out hard copies on a sophisticated color printer.

Andy publishes a book of his "nugget-works" with no mention of the
source of his "nuggets." The book is popular and sells widely
all around the world. As a result, Andy becomes famous and
wealthy. When Anne happens to see some of Andy's works, she
instantly recognizes her own work. She becomes furious and feels
cheated. She angrily sues Andy and his publisher for copyright
violations, and she demands that the book be taken off the market.

QUESTIONS: Did Andy do anything unethical? If so, what was unethical
about it? Why? If Andy's publisher knew in advance how Andy had
produced his "nugget-works," did he do anything unethical by
publishing them anyway? Did Andy or his publisher violate Anne's
copyrights? Does Anne deserve a share of the profits on the book?
Should she be listed as a co-creater of Andy's "nugget-works"? Are
Andy's "nugget-works" works of art? Can he rightly claim to be an
artist because he made them? Does the possibility of cutting,
combining and distorting images in a computer create new copyright
questions? Should new copyright rules, definitions and laws be
developed to take account of these new "artistic" possibilities?