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(The New Yorker)   Last year, Matthew Inman of the Oatmeal went to war against copytheft. This year it's Chris Foss, and he's out $5.7 million   (newyorker.com) divider line 81
    More: Scary, Matthew Inman, Magazine Illustration, Chris Foss, J. G. Ballard, Captain Nemo, Turner Prize, Rembrandt  
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8096 clicks; posted to Geek » on 23 Feb 2014 at 10:18 AM (20 weeks ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2014-02-23 09:27:44 AM
"What I can't understand is, who would pay six million dollars for a copy when they can buy the original for a fraction of the price?" Foss said.

Because it's not about the art. It's about the name. He has an established name and people are willing to pay millions for the bragging rights or as an investment. You don't.  Welcome to the professional art world.
 
2014-02-23 09:40:07 AM
I agree completely. All it takes to become a famous artists is to have just one or two influential people in the art world like your stuff.
 
2014-02-23 09:50:58 AM

Some Bass Playing Guy: I agree completely. All it takes to become a famous artists is to have just one or two influential people in the art world like your stuff.


Or an effort by a group of investors. It a nutshell they bid up an artists work at auction and then receive kickbacks from the artist (money or additional works). So they artificially inflate the auction prices, set the precedent and then unload their own works when the prices get high enough. Building an artist and making a ton of money at the same time.
 
2014-02-23 10:24:35 AM

Some Bass Playing Guy: I agree completely. All it takes to become a famous artists is to have just one or two influential people in the art world like your stuff.


img.fark.net

Duchamp demonstrated this almost a hundred years ago.  He tried to submit a urinal into an art competition under a fake name, and was rejected.  When it was revealed it was the work of Duchamp, it was the centerpiece of the exhibition.
 
2014-02-23 10:28:16 AM
Foss, who had bought an airbrush to better render the human skin in nude magazine illustrations, turned the tool to spaceships and, through his agent, began providing the covers for many seminal novels of the time, including ones by Isaac Asimov and J. G. Ballard. Foss would rarely read the books, instead drawing upon his own imagination to create his majestic space vistas, defined by buckshot stars, gaseous swirls of color, and portly spacecraft.

I always suspected that was the case with sci-fi illustrators!
 
2014-02-23 10:44:11 AM

Some Bass Playing Guy: I agree completely. All it takes to become a famous artists is to have just one or two influential people in the art world like your stuff.


That's half the story, the other part is that there's a lot of rich assholes who want to be thought of as being patrons of the arts so they pay a few million for whatever's trendy. The quality of the art is irrelevant, because the people buying it aren't buying the art, they're buying the esteem they think having an original Banksy or whatever in their collection will bring them. Because the quality of the art is irrelevant, the people producing it aren't making good stuff, they're making stuff that seems trendy or chic or attention-grabbing.
 
2014-02-23 10:44:54 AM

Dwight_Yeast: Foss, who had bought an airbrush to better render the human skin in nude magazine illustrations, turned the tool to spaceships and, through his agent, began providing the covers for many seminal novels of the time, including ones by Isaac Asimov and J. G. Ballard. Foss would rarely read the books, instead drawing upon his own imagination to create his majestic space vistas, defined by buckshot stars, gaseous swirls of color, and portly spacecraft.

I always suspected that was the case with sci-fi illustrators!


I wouldn't be surprised if in most cases the illustration is commissioned long before the book is complete.
 
2014-02-23 10:50:20 AM
I remember when Andy Warhol turned a can of tomato soup into a priceless artwork.  I bet Campbell's is still pissed about that one.
 
2014-02-23 10:56:43 AM
While I'm sure I'd side with the Foss, why not show both pieces so we can make the decision ourselves?  Show, don't tell.
 
2014-02-23 10:58:15 AM
Sucks to be this guy but the article says that he gave the artist explicit written permission to produce a derivative piece. Sounds like his issue stems from his failure to research who the request was coming from.
 
2014-02-23 10:59:12 AM
Foss may be pissed off but he himself admitted that he basically told Brown to "go for it." It's his fault that he didn't ask for details because he was "too busy with 2001." I've heard all the stories about how much of a lunatic Kubrick was but that doesn't give him the right to complain now just because he realized that his work was being sold for more under a different name.
 
2014-02-23 11:09:18 AM

ubermensch: While I'm sure I'd side with the Foss, why not show both pieces so we can make the decision ourselves?  Show, don't tell.


media.boingboing.net

The original is on the left.  I think.
 
2014-02-23 11:09:28 AM

ubermensch: While I'm sure I'd side with the Foss, why not show both pieces so we can make the decision ourselves?  Show, don't tell.


I came in here hoping someone would have done this. I am too lazy to go look it up.
 
2014-02-23 11:11:46 AM
First thing I thought of:
2.bp.blogspot.com
 
2014-02-23 11:16:57 AM

Sgt Otter: ubermensch: While I'm sure I'd side with the Foss, why not show both pieces so we can make the decision ourselves?  Show, don't tell.

[media.boingboing.net image 850x248]

The original is on the left.  I think.


This is straight farking plagiarism and anyone who defends it is a moron. It's just fancy tracing, and even elementary aged children are quite aware that tracing is a cop-out.
 
2014-02-23 11:17:28 AM
Yes, because being pissed that someone *with your explicit permission* made a derivative work and enjoyed more success is *exactly* the same as telling some douchebag company to stop lifting stuff directly from your site and having them try to sue you for defamation.
 
2014-02-23 11:22:53 AM

Dwight_Yeast: Foss, who had bought an airbrush to better render the human skin in nude magazine illustrations, turned the tool to spaceships and, through his agent, began providing the covers for many seminal novels of the time, including ones by Isaac Asimov and J. G. Ballard. Foss would rarely read the books, instead drawing upon his own imagination to create his majestic space vistas, defined by buckshot stars, gaseous swirls of color, and portly spacecraft.

I always suspected that was the case with sci-fi illustrators!


Young me used to read SF novels eagerly awaiting the scene depicted in the beautiful cover painting. Ah, the wonder and foolishness of youth.

/still love science fiction
 
2014-02-23 11:23:10 AM

stratagos: Yes, because being pissed that someone *with your explicit permission* made a derivative work and enjoyed more success is *exactly* the same as telling some douchebag company to stop lifting stuff directly from your site and having them try to sue you for defamation.


Yea, you must be a lawyer.

Sure, if I wrote a 100,000 word novel, and agreed to let someone make a "derivative" work based on mine, I would expect "a new novel using perhaps some characters, the setting, and the general ambiance of the work". If Stephen King bought it and changed 100 words out of 100,000 and released it as his intellectual property, this would "legally" perhaps be okay, but "ethically" (ie. in reality) be completely disingenuous plagiarism.

This guy traced Foss' work. That's all it is. It's literally the exact same picture, in my opinion, done in a pale imitation of the original (poor shading, lack of contrast). That's not "derivative", that's "a poor copy".
 
2014-02-23 11:29:38 AM

RockofAges: stratagos: Yes, because being pissed that someone *with your explicit permission* made a derivative work and enjoyed more success is *exactly* the same as telling some douchebag company to stop lifting stuff directly from your site and having them try to sue you for defamation.

Yea, you must be a lawyer.

Sure, if I wrote a 100,000 word novel, and agreed to let someone make a "derivative" work based on mine, I would expect "a new novel using perhaps some characters, the setting, and the general ambiance of the work". If Stephen King bought it and changed 100 words out of 100,000 and released it as his intellectual property, this would "legally" perhaps be okay, but "ethically" (ie. in reality) be completely disingenuous plagiarism.

This guy traced Foss' work. That's all it is. It's literally the exact same picture, in my opinion, done in a pale imitation of the original (poor shading, lack of contrast). That's not "derivative", that's "a poor copy".


My point is that the cases would be identical if Foss threatened to sue because the original artist called him on the plagiarism, *not* that the first guy is a saint.

There is an entirely different level of douchebaggery in category two
 
2014-02-23 11:32:30 AM
The guy who did the first velvet Elvis should get a lawyer too.
 
2014-02-23 11:34:00 AM

stratagos: RockofAges: stratagos: Yes, because being pissed that someone *with your explicit permission* made a derivative work and enjoyed more success is *exactly* the same as telling some douchebag company to stop lifting stuff directly from your site and having them try to sue you for defamation.

Yea, you must be a lawyer.

Sure, if I wrote a 100,000 word novel, and agreed to let someone make a "derivative" work based on mine, I would expect "a new novel using perhaps some characters, the setting, and the general ambiance of the work". If Stephen King bought it and changed 100 words out of 100,000 and released it as his intellectual property, this would "legally" perhaps be okay, but "ethically" (ie. in reality) be completely disingenuous plagiarism.

This guy traced Foss' work. That's all it is. It's literally the exact same picture, in my opinion, done in a pale imitation of the original (poor shading, lack of contrast). That's not "derivative", that's "a poor copy".

My point is that the cases would be identical if Foss threatened to sue because the original artist called him on the plagiarism, *not* that the first guy is a saint.

There is an entirely different level of douchebaggery in category two


Foss is the original artist.
 
2014-02-23 11:34:08 AM
I can't call that "homage" or "derivative work"; that's a straight-up recreation, with no transformative qualities to it.

It also sounds like the original painting was a work for hire, though, which under US copyright law means he has no moral rights to the work.
 
2014-02-23 11:36:55 AM

poot_rootbeer: I can't call that "homage" or "derivative work"; that's a straight-up recreation, with no transformative qualities to it.

It also sounds like the original painting was a work for hire, though, which under US copyright law means he has no moral rights to the work.


Maybe Foss should have "Robert Brown'd" himself, and just changed a few pixels from his "work for hire" in order to maintain copyright?
 
2014-02-23 11:38:29 AM

RockofAges: poot_rootbeer: I can't call that "homage" or "derivative work"; that's a straight-up recreation, with no transformative qualities to it.

It also sounds like the original painting was a work for hire, though, which under US copyright law means he has no moral rights to the work.

Maybe Foss should have "Robert Brown'd" himself, and just changed a few pixels from his "work for hire" in order to maintain copyright?


fark Glenn. Glenn. Why did Robert come out? Canada won gold so I'm blaming the 8AM drinking.
 
2014-02-23 11:39:04 AM

ubermensch: While I'm sure I'd side with the Foss, why not show both pieces so we can make the decision ourselves?  Show, don't tell.


This is one of those articles where I would have gone the extra mile to pay $10 to tase the farking author and the editor.
 
2014-02-23 11:48:16 AM

Dwight_Yeast: I always suspected that was the case with sci-fi illustrators!


Well, a painting in the mostly-realist style that science fiction and fantasy novels favor for covers is very labor-intensive when you're using physical paints instead of a computer with a delete/undo function, and for-hire artists working for the bigger publishers are putting out several a week sometimes.  It's not really surprising that they don't always have time to read a dozen plus novels in a month.

Usually the author is asked to give a general description to the artist, which sometimes works out pretty well, is usually reasonable but falls under the MST3K principle, and occasionally ends in something absurdly inappropriate or silly -- my favorite being Jim Butcher's running feud/joke with his illustrator over whether the character wears a hat.
 
2014-02-23 11:58:15 AM

RockofAges: This is straight farking plagiarism and anyone who defends it is a moron. It's just fancy tracing, and even elementary aged children are quite aware that tracing is a cop-out


So I guess you're not a Warhol fan then.
 
2014-02-23 12:03:44 PM

Marcus Aurelius: RockofAges: This is straight farking plagiarism and anyone who defends it is a moron. It's just fancy tracing, and even elementary aged children are quite aware that tracing is a cop-out

So I guess you're not a Warhol fan then.


Did Warhol copy another visual artist's published work verbatim? Were there any transformative elements? I admit, I don't know much about him at all.
 
2014-02-23 12:15:40 PM

stratagos: Yes, because being pissed that someone *with your explicit permission* made a derivative work


From TFA:

"my assistant received a letter from Brown. He put himself over as a young student who loved my work, and who wanted to create an homage. I scribbled a reply that simply read, 'Go for it.' "

Now I don't know enough about the law to know if it's OK to plagiarize someone else's work if you trick them into giving permission by claiming to be a student working on a homage, but it's sure as shiat ethically questionable. Don't act like you wouldn't be pissed if someone did it to you.
 
2014-02-23 12:32:33 PM
I'm impressed spaceship paintings are now worth millions.
 
2014-02-23 12:54:32 PM
Headline: This year it's Chris Foss, and he's out $5.7 million

TFA: In October, "Ornamental Despair," a 1994 painting by the British artist Glenn Brown, sold at auction in London for $5.7 million.

Copyright infringement is bad, m'kay? But failing to earn $5.7 million dollars under circumstances that didn't happen is not the same thing as being "out" $5.7 million. I'm not saying it makes Brown an  artist that he gets people to pay a 10,000x markup on slightly re-scaled copies, but he's doing SOMETHING that adds $5,699,500 of value to the idiot who buys it. I mean, let the chips fall where they may on any lawsuits--I don't care if Brown keeps a penny of it. But this wasn't money that Foss could have made happen.

As for this...

Gunther: Now I don't know enough about the law to know if it's OK to plagiarize someone else's work if you trick them into giving permission by claiming to be a student working on a homage, but it's sure as shiat ethically questionable. Don't act like you wouldn't be pissed if someone did it to you.


You're right, but going by the dates given in the article and some Wikipedia information, he'd have been about 25, getting his MA, and definitely a nobody at the time.
 
2014-02-23 12:55:32 PM

RockofAges: Marcus Aurelius: RockofAges: This is straight farking plagiarism and anyone who defends it is a moron. It's just fancy tracing, and even elementary aged children are quite aware that tracing is a cop-out

So I guess you're not a Warhol fan then.

Did Warhol copy another visual artist's published work verbatim? Were there any transformative elements? I admit, I don't know much about him at all.





Andy Warhol faced a series of lawsuits from photographers whose work he appropriated and silk-screened. Patricia Caulfield, one such photographer, had taken a picture of flowers for a photography demonstration for a photography magazine. Warhol had covered the walls of Leo Castelli's New York gallery in 1964 with the silk-screened reproductions of Caulfield's photograph. After seeing a poster of their work in a bookstore, Caulfield claimed ownership of the image and while Warhol was the author of the successful silk screens, he settled out of court, giving Caulfield a royalty for future use of the image as well as two of the paintings.
 
2014-02-23 12:56:33 PM
i1.ytimg.com
 
2014-02-23 12:58:19 PM

Jim_Callahan: Dwight_Yeast: I always suspected that was the case with sci-fi illustrators!

Well, a painting in the mostly-realist style that science fiction and fantasy novels favor for covers is very labor-intensive when you're using physical paints instead of a computer with a delete/undo function, and for-hire artists working for the bigger publishers are putting out several a week sometimes.  It's not really surprising that they don't always have time to read a dozen plus novels in a month.

Usually the author is asked to give a general description to the artist, which sometimes works out pretty well, is usually reasonable but falls under the MST3K principle, and occasionally ends in something absurdly inappropriate or silly -- my favorite being Jim Butcher's running feud/joke with his illustrator over whether the character wears a hat.


Jesus farking christ I never thought about that before. And that's one of my favorite series.
 
2014-02-23 12:58:34 PM

Sgt Otter: ubermensch: While I'm sure I'd side with the Foss, why not show both pieces so we can make the decision ourselves?  Show, don't tell.

[media.boingboing.net image 850x248]

The original is on the left.  I think.


Wow, the balls on that guy.

Also I think I saw Banksy get mentioned earlier, which leads to
stream1.gifsoup.com
 
2014-02-23 01:05:28 PM

RockofAges: Did Warhol copy another visual artist's published work verbatim? Were there any transformative elements? I admit, I don't know much about him at all.


upload.wikimedia.org

It's a lot bigger than a soup can, but otherwise, it's about as close a copy as a human being is physically capable of.

"But a soup can isn't art!" you might say. But by that logic neither is some for-hire painting mass-produced in a cheesy 1970s lad mag.

You might notice that ten minutes ago I was shrugging my shoulders at the idea that Brown might get sued for every last penny of his windfall, so it might seem contradictory for me to be invoking Warhol now. That's because the tl;dr for the entire issue of creativity, credit, money, copyright, plagiarism, homage, and art is: it's complicated. Courts are actually pretty good about making sensible decisions on these things.
 
2014-02-23 01:14:57 PM

semiotix: RockofAges: Did Warhol copy another visual artist's published work verbatim? Were there any transformative elements? I admit, I don't know much about him at all.

[upload.wikimedia.org image 318x480]

It's a lot bigger than a soup can, but otherwise, it's about as close a copy as a human being is physically capable of.

"But a soup can isn't art!" you might say. But by that logic neither is some for-hire painting mass-produced in a cheesy 1970s lad mag.

You might notice that ten minutes ago I was shrugging my shoulders at the idea that Brown might get sued for every last penny of his windfall, so it might seem contradictory for me to be invoking Warhol now. That's because the tl;dr for the entire issue of creativity, credit, money, copyright, plagiarism, homage, and art is: it's complicated. Courts are actually pretty good about making sensible decisions on these things.


I know shiat about art, I know shiat about the law, and I can barely spell irony, but wasn't part of what made Warhol's soup can famous and valuable was the (admittedly unstated) commentary about irony, and how "commercial art" raised into public awareness transforms into "real" "art"?

But the cover of an SF mag or comic book (or movie poster) commissioned from an artist? That's long been acknowledged as art.
 
2014-02-23 01:23:11 PM

RockofAges: poot_rootbeer: I can't call that "homage" or "derivative work"; that's a straight-up recreation, with no transformative qualities to it.

It also sounds like the original painting was a work for hire, though, which under US copyright law means he has no moral rights to the work.

Maybe Foss should have "Robert Brown'd" himself, and just changed a few pixels from his "work for hire" in order to maintain copyright?


He did. His original work was cropped for the book it was copied from.
 
2014-02-23 01:38:40 PM
Another fine farking example:

images.tate.org.uk VS. www.tonyrobertsart.co.uk

/Pick another hobby!!!
 
2014-02-23 01:58:07 PM

Sgt Otter: ubermensch: While I'm sure I'd side with the Foss, why not show both pieces so we can make the decision ourselves?  Show, don't tell.

[media.boingboing.net image 850x248]

The original is on the left.  I think.


Loking at the illustration in the Boing Boing article, I believe that the original is the one on the right....
 
2014-02-23 02:18:02 PM
The guy has identified a market

If I was Foss I'd quit moaning and start doing large versions of my own art

I'm sure there's a few old ex-Omni readers out there who'd pay for a pic of attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion .....
 
2014-02-23 02:26:04 PM
Can't they just split it? Admittedly if it had happened to me I'd tell the guy "We split it, or I split you".

/had a similar thing happen with a piece of software
//scooped Google
///They admitted it
////csb
 
2014-02-23 02:28:00 PM

Sgt Otter: Some Bass Playing Guy: I agree completely. All it takes to become a famous artists is to have just one or two influential people in the art world like your stuff.

[img.fark.net image 206x244]

Duchamp demonstrated this almost a hundred years ago.  He tried to submit a urinal into an art competition under a fake name, and was rejected.  When it was revealed it was the work of Duchamp, it was the centerpiece of the exhibition.


A bit inaccurate - the exhibition was for, and run by, traditionalists. Duchamp was literally taking the piss and they knew it. The urinal disappeared - legend has it that they smashed it in indignation.

Duchamp went down the road and bought and signed another one, and sold it. There are now 19 authentic Duchamp "R.Mutt" urinals around the world.

But one of the easiest things to copy, you'd think.
 
2014-02-23 02:29:29 PM

semiotix: RockofAges: Did Warhol copy another visual artist's published work verbatim? Were there any transformative elements? I admit, I don't know much about him at all.

[upload.wikimedia.org image 318x480]

It's a lot bigger than a soup can, but otherwise, it's about as close a copy as a human being is physically capable of.

"But a soup can isn't art!" you might say. But by that logic neither is some for-hire painting mass-produced in a cheesy 1970s lad mag.

You might notice that ten minutes ago I was shrugging my shoulders at the idea that Brown might get sued for every last penny of his windfall, so it might seem contradictory for me to be invoking Warhol now. That's because the tl;dr for the entire issue of creativity, credit, money, copyright, plagiarism, homage, and art is: it's complicated. Courts are actually pretty good about making sensible decisions on these things.


All of the legalese wrangling aside, I am going to engage you on one point.

A drawing of a physical object is art. We do it all the time, from landscapes to "bowl of fruit" whatever famous painting that is. Still life, branding included or not, is an original art category. 

If someone traced Warhol's soup can, I would be making the same point -- Warhol would be the Original Gangsta and whoever traced his soup can drawing would be a shiatty imposter.

I guess I'm not understanding the conflation. I'm not questioning "true art", I'm questioning a creative artifact created exclusively by one individual being literally CTRL-C, CTRL-V, ADD FILTER, TOTALLY APPROPRIATE (that's a-pro-pree-ate). Whereas the original is already in the exact same medium, not a drawing of a physical object as still life (along with a poetic or pithy -- your choice -- commentary on banality and consumerism).
 
2014-02-23 03:00:53 PM
Vanilla Ice added an extra "dun" to the bass line. It's all good.
 
2014-02-23 03:06:10 PM

mjjt: The guy has identified a market

If I was Foss I'd quit moaning and start doing large versions of my own art

I'm sure there's a few old ex-Omni readers out there who'd pay for a pic of attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion .....


doyouremember.com
 
2014-02-23 03:09:10 PM
Roy Lichtenstein

i62.tinypic.com

i59.tinypic.com
 
2014-02-23 03:11:17 PM
i60.tinypic.com

i61.tinypic.com
 
2014-02-23 03:15:57 PM
That much shameless ripping off of a picture is bad, but I could see the artistic argument if it changed the scale or media to present it in a new way.

Honestly, I'm more pissed off at the art world fundamentally for creating a situation where the farking copy would sell for $5.7 million out of what seems to be trendiness while the original artwork is simply ignored. Art as something that exists within a market is a joke. It's not about the quality or the motivation, but simply how much hype you can build or who knows you.
 
2014-02-23 03:19:13 PM
The modern world of "high class" art is about taking advantage of the idiocy and vanity of people with far more money than brains.
 
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