property rights

I have been uncomfortably adjacent to architectural practice, education, capitalism, and ~the lifestyle~ for fifteen years now, and have worked in roles providing direct support to architecture students for ten. (Greg, if you are reading this, let’s look back and laugh at the production work I happily put into your thesis gratis sometime.) For reasons I will not get into here (because they will inevitably be taken out of context and used against me) I have major issues with architectural education writ large, most of them ethical. Despite this, I still count several (ex-)architects among my friends-around-the-world, and Elise Hunchuck is someone whose presence I was so delighted to be in a handful of times, even if I feel like my timing was a little misaligned with hers. When she asked if I’d be interested in submitting a lesson to her New Schools for Space summer school a few years back, my feelings about architecture were at another low, just located elsewhere in the province this time. Sometimes my spite manifests productively.

New Schools for Space

A submission on PROPERTY

Prepared by Jordan Hale, Digital Repositories Librarian
University of Waterloo, Canada

Available for reuse under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International

Suggested reading, in suggested order:

A rumour that [architecture professor] is known for reusing the work of past students in competitions, confirmed by one student who dropped out of the program after he did it to her.

Unbeknownst to them, a non-binary person finds themself front and centre in Pride Toronto’s marketing materials. A sign on the barrier fencing in the festival states that you may be photographed upon entering the space and your likeness may be used by Pride Toronto. The subject of the photograph was the target of transphobic attacks before this happened.

Citing the image in a caption does not give you permission to republish it.

I worked in photolabs before the widespread advent of consumer digital cameras, processing a lot of pornography shot on 35mm film but destined for the internet. The EXIF metadata in the JPEG files notes when and how the photo was scanned, not when the image was captured, and lacks geospatial metadata. It could be anyone in the photo.

The only known photo of me as a blonde was a crowd shot from the Dyke March in 2009, to which I arrived late and just hopped in with a crowd. I am adjacent to someone carrying a sign that reads SEX WORK IS REAL WORK. It’s a cause I believe in, thankfully, but what if that sign read something else?

The property I’d like to draw attention to here is intellectual. I manage an open-access research repository, and spend a good chunk of my days working with copyright experts and authors to determine what rights they have – or may have signed over – through the academic publishing process. It is the responsibility of authors to ensure that no plagiarized or copyrighted material used without permission is deposited, but as the manager of the system I bear responsibility for the stewardship of its contents.

The rights of authors – who may not be copyright holders – extend to include their personal safety. As someone whose first academic article went internationally and infamously viral, I am keenly aware of the anxiety that stems from the discoverability of metadata and documents unrelated to your work, but simultaneously used to judge and harass you. As detailed in Tara Robertson’s work above, this concern extends to the subjects of creations and their understanding of permissions, acceptable uses, and contracts they may have signed. She encourages us to think about community-developed understandings of reuse, and not a necessary legal one.

How can the visualization of spaces and buildings be carried out in a way that respects the legal, moral, and security rights of others? What options exist for representing occupancy, activity, mobility, and labour with a responsible eye towards creators and subjects?

A short list of strategies: masking identities, Creative Commons-licensed imagery, model releases, public domain works, strategic framing, asking for permission…