Famous Protest Art Group In Bulgaria Paint Their Feelings About New EU Copyright Law On Gutenberg Statue

The brave new path to a gatekeeper-manned, non-open internet the EU recently cut with its plainly atrocious new copyright directive was, were you to believe the general media coverage, cheered on by EU artists as a blow to Google and a boon to art because… well, nobody can actually explain that last part. And that’s likely because the proposed new legislation, Article 11 and Article 13, essentially forces internet platforms to play total copyright cops or be liable for infringement while gutting the fair use type allowances that had previously been in place. Much of the European legislation that existed on the national level, and which served as the basis for this continental legislation, has done absolutely zero to provide artists or journalists any additional income. Instead, it’s re-entrenched legacy gatekeepers and essentially created a legal prohibition on innovation. As the directive goes through its final stages for adoption by EU member states, the general coverage has repeated the line that artists and creators are cheering this on.

But, despite the media coverage, it isn’t true that all of the artistic world is blind to exactly what was just done to the internet and the wider culture. Destructive Creation — a collection of artists most famous for taking a monument in Europe to Soviet soldiers and painting them all as western superheroes and cultural icons — has made its latest work an addition to a statue of Johannes Gutenberg.

“Let there be light”, reads the cover of the Bible held by the bronze hands of Johannes Gutenberg, inventor of the modern printing press, on the famous statue in Place Gutenberg in Strasbourg, France. Last weekend, however, the monument received a curious addition. A dazzling red sign reads CENSORED above a caption that reads “Art. 13”.

A member of Bulgarian art collective, Destructive Creation, which was behind the artistic action, defended the stunt.

“Under the proposed regulations, if Gutenberg was doing now what he was doing in the 15th century, he would be sued for using content that does not belong to him – the Bible, which he reprinted – and would have been censored,” the artist told BIRN.

And here is their work upon the statue.

As far as making points goes, slapping the law you believe will censor art on the bible being held by the man that brought mass printing to Europe certainly is on the nose. But the actual important factor in this is that this wasn’t Silicon Valley tech shareholders that defaced the statue in the name of saving art and culture, but a group of artists. These are the exact people who, were you to listen to proponents of the new copyright law, would be on their knees thanking their gracious overlords. Instead, Destructive Creation knows exactly where this is all going to lead and it most certainly isn’t going to be to an EU where artists have more opportunities to make, share, and sell their art. Instead, the law will chill permissive sharing by artists, not to mention individuals and companies that want to build new and innovative platforms to help art reach the public, all under the threat of massive liability that practically mandates platforms disallow user-generated content.

You know, what the internet has essentially always been until this EU bill has decided to kill it.

Permalink | Comments | Email This Story