It is not unusual for artists and their works to run afoul of public morality. After all, contemporary art should challenge the status quo. While confrontations between art, public morality and the law are most notorious when art approaches the legal definition of obscenity, a growing threat of censorship for feminist artists is when depicted images may be copyright-protected.
Free expression may be guaranteed in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, however every artist knows that these rights are not absolute. Copyright law restricts what can be reproduced to protect the rights of creators, for example. Creators and owners, in turn, can sell those rights when they license their material. But what happens when an object like a cartoon character or a genre of pulp fiction is the very symbol the artist wishes to scrutinize?
Look at is Natalka Husar's exhibit "Blond With Dark Roots," which included portraits of fictitious post-Soviet immigrant girls on torn-off romance novel covers. In May 2002, a letter from Harlequin Enterprises claimed that Husar's art contravened the Copyright Act and thereby violated Harlequin authors', artists' and editors' moral rights. The company demanded that she stop exhibiting the work and obliterate the authors' names (which were fictitious), the ISBNs and other features.
Husar refused. The work was touring and therefore physically inaccessible, but she also objected to the attempt to influence her vision. To date, there has been no lawsuit by the company.
The irony is that a multi-billion-dollar company which depends on women's …