04.24.2013 / Copyright: Ask the Experts with Anne Bast Davis & Sriba Kwadjovie


Wednesday, April 24, 2012
10am – 12pm
Board Room, SF Campus

Anne Bast Davis is a Curatorial Assistant in the Painting and Sculpture department at SFMOMA. She previously held the position of Intellectual Property Associate at SFMOMA; in that capacity she advised on copyright and related matters and administered the museum’s image licensing program. Anne holds a Master’s in Information Science from the University of Michigan and a Diploma in International Cultural Heritage Studies from the Institut National du Patrimoine in Paris.

Sriba Kwadjovie was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. She holds a BA in Political Science and a Certificate of Ethnomusicology from the University of California, Irvine. After a brief stint working for Legal Momentum in Washington D.C., she returned to California to earn a law degree at John F. Kennedy University, College of Law. Sriba has worked on legal matters for organizations such as the San Francisco Ballet, California Lawyers for the Arts, Actors Theater of San Francisco and the Red Poppy Art House. She is currently the Intellectual Property Associate at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and a dancer with the company, Dance Elixir.

Student Review
by Calder Yates and Vanessa Kauffman

After leaving Wednesday’s forum “Copyright: Ask the Experts” (April 24, 2013), I said to another student,“That seemed more useful to the faculty than the students!” I don’t want to imply that the forum wasn’t useful for students. The usefulness, for me, came in realizing how copyright issues occupy a disproportionately large part of professional academics’ lives. The exasperation Jordana expressed as well as the anecdotes brought up by Tirza and other faculty were eye opening. I have a fuller understanding of the issues that may confront me when publishing my writing about visual phenomenon. A fair amount of the content in Wednesday’s presentation was already accessible on Wikipedia. And lingering on Supreme Court cases involving Richard Prince or Jeff Koons felt unnecessary. But if I publish a book about a work of art, and if I then work to gain permission to publish an image of said work of art, knowing the process of “due diligence” seems very relevant to me. I want to get down into the weeds. What exactly should we expect regarding copyright infringement? We made good progress on some of these issues in the second hour of the forum. If the VCS department holds a forum in the future based around copyright issues, which I think is a good idea, framing the presentation and the discussion within the context of our professional practice and future academic lives, and making this expectation explicit to future presenters, will make the subject matter that much more helpful to students.

“Copyright: Ask the Experts,” the VCS Forum on April 24, 2013, was presented by SFMoMA Intellectual Property associates, Sriba Kwadjovie and Anne Bast Davis. Beginning with the question, “what is intellectual property?” the presentation illuminated best practices for artists, scholars, and curators in their approach to publishing, appropriation, and licensing. While confidently providing professional expertise and groundwork for the discussion, as well as slides of resources for continued study, Kwadjovie and Davis enveloped the collective group knowledge into a lively and leveling conversation. The topic of “orphan works”–a category that consists of visual or written work where copyright cannot be located–was particularly intriguing to me. Kwadjovie and Bast spoke of the Google Images project (making available high resolution images on open Google searches) that SFMoMA wanted to be a part of but faced many licensing challenges in the course of doing so. As a result, the images that they were able to contribute to the project consisted either of pieces whose copyright owners consented, or pieces that belong to the “orphan works” category. Because most of the Museum’s collection is licensed through giant rights corporations, such as Visual Artists and Galleries Association (VAGA), the comment was made by Kwadjovie and Bast that the representation of the Museum’s collection was compromised. I left the forum considering these conundrums of contemporary archiving, and specifically the archiving of digital images. The Copyright forum provided insight to the unseen backend of the collective commons (such as Google Images) that can easily, and naively, be imagined to be limitless. Kwadjovie and Bast brought to the fore the many tenebrous relations that exist under the auspice of artist’s rights that are, in many instances, only extensions of monolithic gatekeeping and capitalism.