The IPKat has just received news of a terrible tale involving a dead cat, not to mention some serious issues involving live humans, thanks to Allard Ringnalda (Research assistant, Centrum voor Intellectueel Eigendomsrecht, Utrecht University, and the co-author of a book which the IPKat would love to read if it wasn't for his linguistic ineptitude). Allard writes, on behalf of his institute and, in particular on behalf of the IPKat'd scholarly friend Professor Willem Grosheide, as follows:
"Last week, a Dutch artist known by the name of ‘Tinkebell’ [IPKat note: real name, Katinka Simonse] published a book --Dearest TINKEBELL-- which contained a collection of hate mail. She received this hate mail during the years 2004-2008 after she – and I am sorry to have to tell you this – killed her cat (who is reported to have been seriously ill at the time), skinned him, and made him into a purse [IPKat note: This appears to have been the subject of a book published in 2004, My dearest cat Pinkeltje]. This work of art (its interpretations vary from a protest against the treatment of animals and pets to a comment on fashion) attracted quite some attention through her website, and some 1,000 visitors felt the urge to inform the artist about their disapproval of this type of art. I’ll not reproduce the expletives used in these e-mails here, but I’m sure you can imagine their content.The IPKat is horrified to think what is done to cats for the sake of art, even if they are fast coming to the end of their ninth and final lives. However, from the point of view of the publication of letters not intended for publication, he remembers fondly William Donaldson's The Henry Root Letters, in which a hilarious set of genuine celebrity responses to a set of well-aimed hoax letters from a wealthy wet-fish merchant became a popular read without seeming to draw any threats of legal action.
Those e-mails led to a new project, the book titled Dearest TINKEBELL. Not only does this book contain all the hatemail received by the artist; it also holds all sorts of information about its senders. Every e-mail is accompanied by photographs and information (‘profiles’) from the senders, found on various publicly accessible websites (such as FaceBook and LinkedIn). It allows the reader to find out what the sender of the e-mail lookes like, where they live, what their hobbies are, where they work … The result is a rather interesting experiment in anonymity, online privacy, shame, and voyeurism. However, as I’m sure you’ve guessed, there is also a very interesting legal dimension to it.
The publication of the book is presently causing some sort of a stir among (legal) scholars in the Netherlands, and perhaps reporting it will lead to some interesting comments on your website too. The book raises all sorts of interesting questions on privacy, copyright (both in the e-mails, which would probably be protected by copyright under the recent Endstra-Tapes case law of our highest court [see here and here], and on the publically available material (pictures, text) on websites), libel, the need for an exceptio artis, etc. If you’re interested, you can find more information in an English translation of an article that appeared in a newspaper last week, which describes the project and the contents of the book. It is found here".