Category Archives: copyright

Grant Wood’s ‘American Gothic’ in the public domain

The following authors and their works are in the public domain as of January 1 of this year according the 70 years rule:

Robert Musil, Austrian author of The Man Without Qualities; Bruno Schulz, Polish author of The Street of Crocodiles, Sanatorium Under the Sign of the Hourglass, draughtsman of The Book of Idolatry; Franz Boas, German-born American anthropologist, author of Anthropology and Modern Life, The Mind of Primitive Man and Primitive Art; Stefan Zweig, Austrian author of Letter from an Unknown Woman, Fear and World of Yesterday; Germaine Dulac French director of The Seashell and the Clergyman; Jindřich Štyrský , Czech artist, author-photographer of Emilie Comes to Me in a Dream; Grant Wood, an American painter, best known for his painting American Gothic; Bronisław Malinowski, Polish anthropologist, author of The Sexual Life of Savages in North-Western Melanesia; Léon Daudet, French journalist, writer, often called the French Dickens and Walter Sickert, painter known for his The Camden Town Murder.

Illustration: American Gothic (1930) by American painter Grant Wood. This is the best-known work of Wood, up to the point that it is one of the most famous works of art. But in his oeuvre you will also find Rousseau-esque discursions such as Young Corn.

The Prince copyright controversy and WMC #54

At the 2008 Coachella Music Festival, Prince performed a cover of Radiohead‘s “Creep” but immediately after he forced YouTube and other sites to remove footage that fans had taken of the performance. Thom Yorke of Radiohead, upon hearing about the removal of the video, asked Prince to unblock the song stating “Well, tell him to unblock it. It’s our … song.” –The Prince (TAFKAP) and copyright controversy.

Look around on YouTube, how many TAFKAP clips do you find? That’s right, none. TAFKAP is convinced that if you want to be entertained by him, you have to pay him. He is right of course, even if it does not make him very likable.

Why is he right?

Companies such as YouTube (a Google owned company) are making millions of dollars on the backs of “minor” artists (the long tail) who do not have the funds to employ an army of lawyers to police YouTube in search of their content.

These minor artists should be paid for their work. Tafkap may set a precedent for this to happen.

Take an artist such as Loleatta Holloway[1] (who may be a bad example since she didn’t actually write many compositions herself, but it will do for the sake of the argument). About 124 clips with her voice are featured on YouTube, providing thousands of pageviews for YouTube. Pageviews generate ad revenue. Does Loleatta get paid? No. Does she gain in extra record sales? No, record sales are virtually non-existent since the advent of the internet, everyone downloads1.

The solution?

Micropayments, subscription based YouTubes (one for the the big four, the major record companies who control 70% of the world music market; one for all the independents who control the other 30%); and YouTube setting up a fund for the artists who are missing out on revenue right now.

P.S. It may sound contradictory (especially in regard to my post on The Cult of the Amateur [2], but I enjoy YouTube and its ability to bring unknown artists to my attention immensely, it’s just that I would not mind paying an annual fee to be able to discover them (and not pay to view the majors’ work). I wouldn’t even subscribe to TAFKAP, for that matter, he’s become to MSM to me.

As a bonus, and to extend the contradiction, it’s time for WMC #54.


“Cry to Me” (1975) by Loleatta Holloway.

1) For the record, I never download. I did it for a period of a month back in 2003/2004, lost the 200 songs I had gathered (I hadn’t burned them on cd, in fact I’ve yet to burn my first cd) and have not repeated the experience since I find YouTube satisfactory.

Crystal Castles, Trevor Brown and the black-eyed Madonna controversy

“Trash Hologram” by Crystal Castles

Staying with Trevor Brown[1], it’s a good time to introduce Crystal Castles, a Toronto-based band who apparently took their name (and – like some of Drexciya‘s work before them – their sound) from an old Atari game[2].

Earlier this month, Pitchfork Media published the story of Crystal Castles’ use of a Trevor Brown painting, depicting a black-eyed Madonna[3], without permission. The situation has not yet been resolved; both parties have been in discussion but an agreement has not yet been reached. For updates, check the blogs of Brown and Pitchfork.