I think I got my first origami book when I was twelve, I made loads of things from it and came back to the same book many times over. I was disappointed to find out in the last year or so that it is notorious for having used origami designers patterns unattributed and infringing copyright. Through this I found that origami suffers quite badly from copyright infringement in a moral sense even if it hasn’t been tested at the courts in many countries. Mostly this seems because it is considered a hobby and not an art. Lots of origami certainly transcends the title of hobby, in design and also in reproduction, just one example is Ryu Zin Dragon (they really are made from one sheet of paper) but there are lots more. Having a look around at this issue again while writing this I found that some origami artist that I admire are filing a lawsuit for copyright infringement, which I completely missed earlier in 2011 when the story broke. As an artists which by definition is a desire to innovate and create you’d think stealing designs would be below Sarah Morris apparently not… There is some more information on the art or origami and an interview by Robert J. Lang, one of the artists pursuing the law suit http://hyperallergic.com/25741/lang-art-origami-science
I like making origami designed by other people and using it in ways interesting to me. As I understand it ‘traditional’ shapes such as the crane have been around so long there is no living author or locatable descendants and are pretty fair game, hence the abundance of crane based items on sale everywhere. But most of the stuff I like making are out of books or from websites with living authors and so are just for fun. After many requests from family and friends to buy fairy lights covered with origami flowers that I had made for myself I did seek out and get permission to use a particular design. And the lovely Dennis Walker agreed to allow me to sell flowers on fairy lights made using his Floribunda design on his website.
There is a lot of debate around the legality of using models and cps (crease patterns that can be used to reverse engineer a model or be exhibited as beautiful art works in themselves) in other contexts but it is pretty simple on a moral ground, if you designed something and enabled other people to enjoy it by publishing the instructions would you not like to make the decision on whether or not someone else can use it for money? Just the same if you composed something and released the tab or manuscript you’d still want to decide if it si ok for someone else to make money from it. I’d hope that a lot of artists if asked nicely they’d be thrilled to have their work used in arts, craft or performance, correctly attributed and possibly even getting a cut, but some wont and that is their choice. Whether or not you feel that open source is the new way or intellectual property should be enforced with the law surely we can all agree that the original artist should get to make the choice about how they share their work and how it is used. I wonder if I can copy her work and make them just black and white lines and get away with it? That’s trans formative right? I’d be commenting on the nature of stealing art.
Anyway back to my folding of Dennis Walker’s lovely Floribunda designs, varnished and attached to fairy lights, not transformative at all.