Australian Political Cartoons
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ItemPolitical Cartoonists and the Law(Network Books, 2008)Political cartoonists feel various forces for ‘censorship’ on and in their work. Often these are informal pressures that are based on moral or commercial interests, or the amorphous notion of ‘good taste’.1 This chapter seeks to focus on the formal legal pressures on cartoonists. We suspect that cartoonists fear (and are led to fear by cautious editorial staff) more legal sanction than is likely to be the case, and that ‘legalling’ of cartoons before publication is often a cover for other sensitivities. But we first need to look at the state of the law.
ItemDefining parody and satire: Australian copyright law and its new exception( 2008)The new exceptions to the Copyright Act in ss 41A and 103AA, providing protection of re-use for ‘the purpose of parody or satire’ seem clearly intended to provide protection for both parody and satire, not merely some confection of the two artistic practices. As these practices are not contiguous and separable genres, as pastoral and epic poetry, or situation comedies and current affairs programs are, it is important to have a model for understanding how these two practices can operate together and separately. The threshold issue of what will legally qualify as parody or satire under the new exception is critical in determining its scope. The answer to this question will determine how far new forms of Australian artistic practice can use existing copyright material before they become infringements, however creative they are. In Part 1 of this article, we argue that it is not safe to rely solely on dictionary definitions of the terms, as the available definitions from the most commonly used dictionaries depend on lexicography too completely shaped by narrowly literary theories of the practice. Moreover, their definitions do not take into account the sort of multi-media re-use that is most likely to cause hard cases to come before Australian courts in the twenty-first century. In our view this caution would be consistent with a judicial approach which surveys a range of dictionaries as one element of the interpretive approach supporting the primary task of textual analysis. Neither is it safe to simply import the US jurisprudence on the terms, for two reasons: broadly, that it has developed in jurisdictions with very different laws, especially those concerning free speech, and narrowly, that the course of US case law has generated a very idiosyncratic distinction between parody and satire which may serve a convenient legal purpose in that jurisdiction, but which does not correspond to the normal meanings of either term in Australia, among practitioners, theorists, and (to the extent they think it through) audiences. In Part 2 of this article (forthcoming) we develop a better theoretical framework for interpreting and applying the threshold definitional part of the new exception.
ItemDefining parody and satire: Australian copyright law and its new exception: Part 2 - Advancing ordinary definitions( 2008)In Part 1 of ‘Defining Parody and Satire’ we sought to show that, for the purposes of the new exception to infringement of the Copyright Act in ss 41A and 103AA (the ‘new exception’), it is unsafe to construe parody and satire according either to US law on the matter or to available dictionary definitions. In this part we propose working definitions for parody and satire which, we suggest, are more congruent with both the intention of the Act to protect the free speech of Australian humorists and with the ordinary meanings of the words. There are four categories of artistic practice that the new Australian exceptions would seem designed to protect. The largest two groups combine the two terms: (1) satirical parodies in which copyright material is reused and distorted for the satirical effect of ridiculing that material. These are the staple of many literary, theatrical, video and digital media. We propose a metaphor of the satirical fist of critical intent animating the parodic glove of formal reuse to help comprehend this group particularly. (2) A group of satirical parodies where the target is not the artistic form parodied, but where the parody, for example of a popular song, provides a vehicle for satirical comment of some other person, group, or event. (3) Pure parody — formal play without discernible satirical intent either towards the vehicle text or any other potential target. This is, perhaps, most common these days in the visual arts, where a layering of pre-existing images creates juxtapositions which defy rhetorical purpose; there is also an established tradition of affectionate literary and dramatic parody. (4) Straight or pure satire, which may be independent of parody, but which may also quote its object so that the audience can know what the target is, without distorting the form of that object (text or image) in parodic ways. This category would include the use of excerpts of television broadcasts which became the subject of Australian copyright litigation in the well known ‘Panel’ case decided before the introduction of the new exception. We submit that unlicensed use of copyright material in all of these categories should enjoy the protection of the new Australian exception, subject to the issues of ‘fairness’ and possibly also moral rights in particular instances — a consideration of which is beyond the scope of this article. The definitions of parody and satire we will propose are: Parody: the borrowing from, imitation, or appropriation of a text, or other cultural product or practice, for the purpose of commenting, usually humorously, upon either it or something else; Satire: the critical impulse manifesting itself in some degree of denigration, almost invariably through attempted humour; the artistic results (usually humorous) of expression of such a critical impulse.
ItemIntroduction: Controversial Images(Network Books, 2008)There appears to be a growing sensitivity to cartoons’ potential impact in public debate, and so it is a good time to ask what the role of cartoons is in Australian politics, policy and media. This collection brings together cartoonists, media professionals and researchers all, in their different ways, fascinated by the contribution cartoons make to our public life. The range of backgrounds of the contributors has led to a rich range of writing styles and approaches; as editors, we have not sought to impose a uniform method on the chapters, but have especially encouraged the cartoonists and media professionals to write from their experience rather than in an imitation of academic style.
ItemIn defence of the political cartoonists' licence to mock( 2004)In a previous issue of The Drawing Board: An Australian Review of Public Affairs, Michael Hogan discussed the role of political cartooning in Australia. Hogan argued that we ought to be concerned about how cartoons erode public confidence in politicians, parties, and democratic institutions. He sought to provoke debate on the role and value of cartooning in political debate in Australia, and we have taken up his invitation. We are more inclined than Hogan to support the licence of cartoonists to mock public figures and institutions freely. We base our view on: (1) an analysis of political cartooning as an established and understood element of free speech in Australia; (2) a provisional taxonomy of the types of political cartoon, judged by the effects they are liable to have on readers; and (3) some empirically based scepticism about the capacity of cartoons to directly influence public opinion. We conclude that cartoons make a valuable contribution to public debate that is distinct from journalism and written commentary, and that cartoonists should not be formally or informally encouraged to restrain their satirical instincts in the interests of balance or for fear of engendering public cynicism.
ItemThe Life of a Long-Distance Satirist: How to Write a Book about Bruce Petty. [abstract].( 2006)In this paper, Robert Phiddian explores four pragmatic issues involved in writing a biography of Australian cartoonist and illustrator, Bruce Petty. When your subject has published at least weekly and often daily since 1963 (apart from annual leave and a brief hiatus of 2 months in 1976), your problem is one of profusion. When your subject has also made a dozen animated features, hundreds of prints, several sculptures, and half a dozen books, your problem with profusion is not exactly dissipating. When your subject has led a personal life that in many ways exemplifies the social changes in Australia in a period spanning the Depression to the present, and is happy enough to talk about them, sanity demands that you view profusion is a realm of happy opportunity.