|Project:||Teen Art Law Program|
|Organization:||Arts & Business Council of Greater Boston|
The Arts & Business Council of Greater Boston presents their Teen Art Law program, a five-year old initiative in collaboration with the Brown Rudnick Center for the Public Interest, which sponsors this inspiring program. The Teen Art Law program seeks to provide inner-city high school students with an understanding of copyright, trademark, and patent law, through interactive workshops facilitated by Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts (VLA) faculty.
The program began when ABC Boston sought an opportunity to create education programs in conjunction with Brown Rudnick law LLP. They first developed the Holiday Card Contest, now in its seventh year, giving students the opportunity to develop and showcase their creativity. The winning design of the contest becomes the law firm's holiday card for that holiday season. The Holiday Card Contest was the seed for the next iteration of an educational program, the Teen Art Law program.
"Now that we had a relationship with the art teachers, we started to get more questions about copyright, first amendment, artist rights, and music sampling from students and teachers, so we designed a program to address those questions," said Jim Grace, the Executive Director of the Arts & Business Council of Greater Boston and Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts of Mass. During annual teacher-in-service days, VLA faculty instructed the teachers on these issues, and ultimately went to high school classrooms directly to teach students this material.
One popular workshop focusing on music—a medium that many of students connect with—centers around the Stevie Wonder song "Pastime Paradise", which the facilitators move through time, playing Ray Barretto and Tito Puente's Latin-Jazz cover of the original song, followed by Coolio's "Gangster's Paradise" and Weird Al Yankovic's "Amish Paradise." The final iteration is a mash-up that a graduate student at the Music and Business Department at Northeastern University created, cutting and pasting pieces of the previous four songs together. At the end of each song, the same series of 3-4 questions are posed to the students, such as who owns the rights, did they have to have permission, and how is the song protected. In larger classrooms, students role play the lawyers for the various artists. In the course of enjoying the music, students engage in conversation about the complex nature of copyright and trademarks that are present with music production and reproduction. Many of the students appreciate and often create their own music, making the content discussed in their workshops particularly relevant to their interest and futures.
ABC Boston went on to create a similar, visual-arts based workshop that focuses on Shepard Fairey, the famed street artist that created the ubiquitous Hope poster during Barack Obama's 2008 campaign. This workshop explores the complex world of original art and derivative works. In this iteration, students look at the players involved in the case, such as the original photographer, the associated press, museums like the Institute of Contemporary Art, the community, and Fairey himself.
The classroom workshops, which generally have 20-40 students, are conducted in Boston Public schools. Since the program was conceived in 2007 the workshop content has been revised and developed in order to resonate with the students. Additionally, Jim Grace uses a modified version of these high school workshops in the context of law schools, and could easily adapt this workshop for participants of any age to present copyright and intellectual property basics. The program has proven to be an interesting and effective way to communicate information about a subject that is ubiquitous yet extremely complex. The Teen Art Law program is a stellar example of a successful initiative by the Arts & Business Council of Greater Boston to have an impact on the local community and future generations.
— Contributed by Zoe Namerow
"Each year, the Holiday Card Contest and the Teen Art Law workshops are a remarkable way for my students to showcase their creativity on the one hand and learn about important and complex issues surrounding art as commerce—like copyright infringement—on the other. This valuable education is always framed in a way that is exciting, entertaining, and thoughtful. I enjoy it as much as my students!" - Visual arts teacher Jeffrey Moy, Boston Latin Academy, Dorchester, MA
|Organization Contact:||Jim Grace, Executive Director|