Copyright and Digital Art: Through the Looking Glass

Research output: Working paper


This chapter explores the interaction between copyright and everyday life of artists in the digital environment. It focuses on the role of copyright in the every day context of a specific creative activity: digital art practice. It draws upon findings from a qualitative empirical study consisting of first-hand accounts from digital artists on their perspective and practice on matters such as creation, dissemination and exploitation of their artworks. The chapter provides a flavour of the life that copyright law and policy take, in ways which contrast with their own purpose, because of the various connections and complexities between the digital artist and other actors in an artistic practice. It emphasises that understandings of ‘copyright in action’ in new creative activities in the digital environment, particularly through the creators’ perspective, can offer valuable insights for policy making.

Section I briefly introduces relevant policy discussions on copyright in United Kingdom. Section II contextualizes the empirical study and outlines the methodology employed. Section III presents some of the findings on the perceived role of copyright in digital artists’ creative practice, specifically the lack of belief in both the prevention of copying in the digital domain and in the usefulness of copyright law for creators. It illustrates how various actors influenced the artists’ understandings and decisions on the role of ‘copying’ and ‘copyright’ for their practice. Section IV provides concluding remarks.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages45
Publication statusPublished - 2012

Publication series

NameEdinburgh School of Law Research Papers


  • Copyright
  • Copying
  • Copyright in Action
  • Creativity
  • Creative Practice
  • Art
  • Artist
  • Creator
  • Digital Artist
  • Qualitative empirical study

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