Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Rosie the Riveter

"Rosie the Riveter" is an icon representing the American women who worked in war factories during World War II. At the time, Rosie was associated with a picture by Norman Rockwell.

Accordign to a presentation by the Library of Congress, this image is no longer that well known and is largely replaced by the "We can do it" picture. What I found most interesting is that the reason given for this change is copyright.

The Norman Rockwell estate enforces its copyright and as a consequence his material is expensie. This made the original "We can do it" picture more atractive; this image is freely licensed and as it is as attractive, you will find it on posters, as an illustration even on mugs.

When copyright makes material less attractive, when as a consequence illustrations become less relevant, the way we look at history changes as well. The argument that copyright destroys the relevancy of material is a new one to me. It is however really powerfull.

Do have a look at the Library of Congress video..


David Gerard said...

I've seen this argument before as "you can have either fame or fortune, choose one." See Clay Shirky's "Fame vs Fortune: Micropayments and Free Content".

GerardM said...

What I see here is that the face of history is changed. Fame is transient like copyright but when people have learned to associate an event with a different image the image that was originally associated is unlikely to gain the same attention. The novelty is that the perception of history is changed.