The Unexplored Ethics of Copywork Image Manipulation

  • Amy Lazet College for Creative Studies
Keywords: ethics, image manipulation, image alteration, imaging, copywork, surrogate images, materiality


Although copywork is a common practice in the field of visual resources, there is little information on the ethical considerations of altering images digitized from books or articles. What state of the original should the final digital surrogate replicate – how the artwork appears in person or how the image in the publication appears? Does this change when the purpose of the image is documentary rather than artistic? Using as a basis Franziska Frey and James Reilly’s four stages of digitizing and restoring photographs, I explore the ethical implications inherent in digitizing and altering images without possessing the original artifact or artwork, as well as discuss the importance of considering one’s audience and their level of visual literacy.


Amy would like to thank Lael J. Ensor-Bennett for her work on the issue of copywork and suggesting the idea that turned into this paper, as well as Marian Lambers for her discussion of this topic with the author.

Author Biography

Amy Lazet, College for Creative Studies

Amy Lazet is the Visual Resources Assistant at the College for Creative Studies in Detroit, Michigan. She has a BA in Art History and Visual Culture from Michigan State University and a Master of Science in Information focusing on preservation of digital information from the University of Michigan.

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