In order to benefit from the GNU General Public License Protection, a Work of Art should meet the following requirements :

  • it should be ©opyright-able :
    This is the case of any "tangible" Work of Art ; Music, Paintings, Photographs, Literature, Sculpture, cinema, etc.
    But this is not the case of Conceptual Works of Art : These indeed consist of methods which can't be ©opyrighted. We'll however evaluate ways to indirectly protect such Works.
  • Its "source code" should be identifiable :
    By "source code", we mean a set of datasets of whichever nature, which interpretations by whichever device make these data the best possible to allow another artist to bring whichever change he intends to the original Work of Art.

We can thus assert that a Work of Art is "legally" defined by its supplied "source code". Considering this assertion actually has the following pros and (eventual) cons :

  • Pros :
    1. Free Will about the definition of the actual Work to be protected
    2. the Work is as accurately protected as its "source code" is exhaustive
  • Cons :
    1. Some subsets of the final Work of Art may be under-evaluated because of the difficulty one may have to accurately represent its source code.
    2. Sourcing the Work components may be long and exhausting.
    3. In some situtations, the amount of "source code" may seem disproportionate regarding the consideration a Creator has for his Work.
    4. A Work definition has to fulfill legal requirements, especially concerning its consistency : One can't protect a one-note melody, a one-point picture or a one-letter text.
Some constructive thinking about these shortcomings led us to minimize their impact on the Artists.
After all, giving up one's ©opyright is a generous action which should remain "painless".

In the Computer Scientist's point of view (from where the GNU General Public License originates), the source code of a creation (a "program") is a set of command sequences, compilable and/or interpretable, which consist of the base needed for subsequent evolutions of the corresponding Free Software.

This source code appears to be quite obfuscated, thus meaningless, for the non-developper.

Indeed, to bring some changes to Free Software, one should be a developper specialized (or wanna-be) in the very kind of source code supplied. Art has neither pedagogical nor didactical purposes, even though a Work may additionally vector information, notwithstanding any ethical consideration.
The Artist should then represent an obvious way the aesthetic components of his creations.
It appears to be quite obvious as Art is not compilable (as in Computer Development jargon) but interpretable.
It is then correct to associate a Work of Art as its own source code.

We will now get through several situations in order to define the requirements needed to identify and to "source" specific kinds of Art Works.

  • Music :
    Our suggestion is to consider the Piece as its own source code.
    A specific requirement is that the shared Work should be the best version created by the artist.
    "Best" should be understood as "the most advanced version in terms of structure and quality".
    Applying the GNU General Public License to Art is an act of both openness and generosity.
    An Artist who'd provide some prematurate draft, below his obvious creativity skills would rather seem to act interestingly for his own personal promotion.

    Such reserves also apply for other forms of Free Art.

  • Literature : (poetry, novels, etc.)
    Here, also, the source code can be defined as the Work itself.

  • Plastic Arts : (paintings, photography, video, sculpture)
    If sourcing a 2D Work is not a problem, one can't easily GPL a 3D Work.
    It is however possible to GPL an "intangible" representation of such Work, either as a set of 2D pictures, or as an OpenGL or VRML (or any other volume description language) program...

  • Conceptual Art : (including computer-related, fractals, etc.)
    In this case, the method use to create the Work has to be taken into account :
    If a program was used, the its (computer language) source code has to be used.
    Otherwise, a textual description of the creation process may be used. It will be protected as such.
    A method similar as Jackson Pollock's may be chosen  He used to produce some movies representing him while creating his Works... Once again the film will be protected as such.
    Of course, visuals or records (if its an audio Work) of the resulting Conceptual Piece may be protected as such representations.

  • Polymorphic Works : (ballet, theater, etc.)
    Such Works have to be considered as sets of "artistical atoms" (scenario = litterature, music, plastic arts = for the decors...). Only individual sourced components may be protected.

  • Corporal Art : (non patentable as such)
    Dance is not easy to protect. It may even not have to
    But one may eventually want to protect some animated sequence or a set of pictures that represents a dance.

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