Articles Appearing in the Journal of the Copyright Society of the U.S.A. and in the online Journal Script-ed

Washington, DC. IIPI Program Attorney Molly Torsen has had two legal articles published recently. The first, published in Vol. 53, Nos. 1-2 of the Journal of the Copyright Society of the U.S.A., entitled Anonymous, Untitled, Mixed Media: Mixing Intellectual Property Law with Other Legal Philosophies to Protect Traditional Cultural Expressions, argues that western intellectual property regimes are a poor fit for protecting traditional cultural expressions (TCEs). But, because there are a variety of dissimilarities between the kinds of protection different cultures are interested in acquiring, no single sui generis law will adequately address their different belief systems or subsequent needs for their respective TCEs. She believes that most jurisdictions can reinterpret the basic concepts of intellectual property and other Western laws so that TCEs receive their due legal shield against misappropriation and misuse, which would in turn avert misconceptions about indigenous peoples and resultant disrespect. A menu of other legal sources, such as human rights law, equity and tribal law, hold some of the ancillary tenets necessary to offer adequate, multi-tiered protection to the variety of existing TCEs.

Molly has also had an article published on international copyright law as it relates to contemporary art in Script-ed, an online journal published by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) Research Centre for Studies in Intellectual Property and Technology Law, in the United Kingdom. Her article, Beyond Oil on Canvas: New Media and Presentation Formats Challenge International Copyright Law’s Ability to Protect the Interests of the Contemporary Artist, stresses that current copyright laws in all jurisdictions are lacking explicit provisions for protecting many types of contemporary art. It remains unclear to what extent ideas should be copyrightable as art, if at all; or whether an artwork’s commercial nature provides a decisive factor regarding appropriation. It is the author’s finding that strong moral rights and a vibrant public domain are not necessarily at odds with each other, especially when parties are open to communication. Laws operate to provide structure when parties do not make other arrangements amongst themselves; contracts between artists and galleries, artists and publishers, even artists and other artists may provide the highest degree of satisfaction for specific parties to a specific situation. Hopefully the issues will continue to be the focus of some thought on all platforms such that informed legal decisions can be made and artists can pursue and protect their creative productions, no matter their format. An online version of her article is available at