Monday, September 1, 2014

Werner Herzog, on self-reliance


Werner Herzog. Credit via

“The best advice I can offer to those heading into the world of film is not to wait for the system to finance your projects and for others to decide your fate. If you can’t afford to make a million-dollar film, raise $10,000 and produce it yourself. That’s all you need to make a feature film these days. Beware of useless, bottom-rung secretarial jobs in film-production companies. Instead, so long as you are able-bodied, head out to where the real world is. Roll up your sleeves and work as a bouncer in a sex club or a warden in a lunatic asylum or a machine operator in a slaughterhouse. Drive a taxi for six months and you’ll have enough money to make a film.”



Hollis Frampton’s F-You Letter to MoMA

Hollis Frampton Letter to MoMA, 1973.

Hollis Frampton Letter to MoMA, 1973.

Hollis Frampton’s 1973 letter to MoMA in response to their offer of a retrospective of his works, with no budget of any kind…not even to bring Frampton to town for the show. Sadly, don’t think things have changed much.

Thanks to our dear friend, Laura Raicovich, for sharing.


Life is short; Art is long

Sharing two pics of the Diego Rivera mural at the Detroit Institute of Art. If you’re ever in Motown, don’t miss it!

















Ruling May Impact Artworld Employment Practices

Another example of the ongoing employment battles, and one that studio artists and any art professional employing people to assist with their art work, research, or installations, should keep an eye on, especially those that like to classify workers as independent contractors rather than employees.

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that certain workers Federal Express had classified as independent contractors are actually employees. Once again, the Court emphasized “control of the work” as the main factor. From the LA Times:

While corporations claim the contractor system gives drivers flexibility and strong incentives as “small businesses,” critics say it’s simply a way to shift the costs of employment onto workers and avoid payroll taxes and workers’-compensation costs.

The basic question in lawsuits involving the independent contractor model is whether or not a company like FedEx still maintains control over the work itself. In Wednesday’s ruling, the judges asserted that it does.

FedEx has petitioned for an en banc hearing (where the entire 9th Circuit Court of Appeals rehears FedEx’s argument).


Former Jasper Johns Assistant Pleads Guilty to Selling Stolen Art

Prosecutors said James Meyer, 52, who worked with Johns for more than 25 years,  collected $3.4 million between September 2006 and February 2012 from 22 works he stole from Johns’ studio and asked the gallery to sell. The gallery was not named in the indictment and was not accused of wrongdoing.

Via the LA Times.


Son Sees Father’s Image in Warhol Work

And that must have been quite…uncanny?


U.S. Copyright Office Not One to Monkey Around

The infamous Macaca Nigra selfie (via Wikimedia)

The infamous Macaca Nigra selfie (via Wikimedia)

Earlier this month I wrote in Hyperallergic that it would be very difficult to argue that a monkey could create a copyrightable work. Seems I was right.

The U.S. Copyright Office just released a draft of its compendium of office practices. Although not official until this December, The Compendium of U.S. Copyright Office Practices, Third Edition, (“Compendium”) now clearly states that the U.S. Copyright office will register an original work of authorship (e.g.- a photograph) “provided that the work was created by a human being.” The Compendium goes on to add, “copyright law only protects ‘the fruits of intellectual labor’ that ‘are founded in the creative powers of the mind.’” (Apparently the Copyright Office hasn’t watched Planet of the Apes.)

“Because copyright law is limited to ‘original intellectual conceptions of the author,’ the [Copyright] Office will refuse to register a claim if it determines that a human being did not create the work.” The Copyright Office “will not register works produced by nature, animals, or plants,” nor purportedly created by a divine or supernatural being. As one example of an unauthored and thus unregistrable work, the Compendium lists “a photograph taken by a monkey.”

So not only is the U.S. Copyright office saying that an animal cannot author a copyrightable work, they are also saying that that particular work, no matter how cute or creative it may seem, cannot be registered with the U.S. Copyright Office. And under U.S. law, without that copyright registration a copyright lawsuit is untenable.

One last thing to note. Although the Compendium is an administrative manual meant to provide instruction and guidance to its staff, attorneys, scholars, and the courts, it does not have the force and effect of law. However, it does have persuasive power, and the Supreme Court has said that as such, it is perfectly acceptable in a court of law.


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