Anish Kapoor is right to be livid about China stealing his big Bean sculpture

William Hogarth would sympathise with Kapoor. The great 18th-century artist was so frustrated by pirated editions of his prints that he successfully lobbied for a British copyright act, known as Hogarth’s Act. The Engraver’s Copyright Act was repealed by the Copyright Act 1911. The right of artists and authors to not have their work copied wholesale is a result of a commercial market in culture: Hogarth was one of the first artists to sell his work in the open marketplace. Today, every work of art in Europe, the US and many other places is someone’s property, and protected as such.

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