This article argues that, with respect to the copyright protection of works of visual art, the general uneasiness that has always pervaded the relationship between copyright law and concepts of creativity produces three anomalous results. One of these is that copyright lacks much in the way of a central concept of 'visual art' and, to the extent that it embraces any concept of the 'visual', it is rooted in the rhetorical discourse of the Renaissance. This means that copyright is poorly equipped to deal with modern developments in the visual arts. Secondly, the pervasive effect of rhetorical discourse appears to have made it particularly difficult for copyright law to strike a meaningful balance between protecting creativity and permitting its use in further creative works. Thirdly, just when rhetorical discourse might have been useful in identifying the significance and materiality of the unique one-off work of visual art, copyright law chooses to ignore its implications
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