We are pleased to announce that the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts has given their 2009 Wynn Kramarsky Freedom of Artistic Expression Award to our Minute Memes animation project. The award comes with a grant of $30,000 USD, to fund the creation of the first three memes (one of which is already available in draft form).
We thank the Andy Warhol Foundation for their support, and for their recognition of copyright's effects on freedom of expression. Our application to the Foundation focused on this point:
The Minute Memes project is a series of one-minute animated videos about copyright restrictions and artistic freedom, to be made by award-winning graphic artist and animator Nina Paley — author of the film "Sita Sings the Blues", adjunct faculty at Parsons The New School For Design in New York City (teaching Visual Narrative), 2006 Guggenheim Fellow, and Artist in Residence at QuestionCopyright.org.
The Minute Memes are a response to widely-available videos and other materials from the copyright industry (see reference ), in which the message is that copyright is a natural and absolute property right that trumps freedom of expression and people's ability to share and reimagine the culture around them. The Minute Memes will counteract this through visual storytelling, backed by still-image and written supplementary materials, to show how artists and audiences can thrive in a more permissive, less monopolistic environment than the one envisioned by the current copyright system.
The Minute Memes will offer an aesthetically engaging and intellectually consistent framework for considering copyright's restrictive effects. Step by step, the series will build a new frame of reference to supplant received rhetoric about copyright — received rhetoric such as the notion of "balancing" the needs of creators and the public, which assumes that the two are in opposition; the idea that copying is a form of stealing; the idea that control over copies must be bound up with attribution; etc. We have already seen anecdotal evidence that there is a need for the Minute Memes; for example, see .
This grant from the Andy Warhol Foundation is also a kind of seed funding for the entire project, which will be a series of twelve or more memes (see the project page for details). We are actively seeking funding for the other memes, as well as for other projects that question and reframe copyright restrictions. If you are interested in supporting our work, or know someone who might be, please contact us or donate.