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Education Canada Idle News

Art School's Expensive Art History Textbook Contains No Actual Art 371

Posted by samzenpus
from the insert-image-here dept.
Dr Herbert West writes "Students at Ontario College of Art and Design were forced to buy a $180 textbook filled with blank squares. Instead of images of paintings and sculpture throughout history (that presumably would fall under fair-use) the textbook for 'Global Visual and Material Culture: Prehistory to 1800' features placeholders with a link to an online image. A letter from the school's dean stated that had they decided to clear all the images for copyright to print, the book would have cost a whopping $800. The screengrabs are pretty hilarious, or depressing, depending on your point of view."
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Art School's Expensive Art History Textbook Contains No Actual Art

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  • by pauldmartin (2005952) on Thursday September 20, 2012 @12:31AM (#41395701) Homepage
    I'm confused as to why they even needed publication rights to print these images...shouldn't all of these images be in the public domain at this point?
    • by NotQuiteReal (608241) on Thursday September 20, 2012 @12:40AM (#41395739) Journal
      Maybe the photographs they wanted to use were copyrighted, not the artwork, per se... they were too lazy to take their own pictures? For a $180 book they should have the budget. Heck, I've been to many of those museums, I'd be happy to go back and take pix if they'd pay for the trip.
      • by OAB_X (818333) on Thursday September 20, 2012 @12:42AM (#41395755)

        You can't just go into a museum and take a picture of something and have it be good enough for print. You need the proper lighting, etc, etc.

        That and presumably the museum could refuse you access if you were going to take pictures for commercial purposes.

        • by sjames (1099) on Thursday September 20, 2012 @12:44AM (#41395765) Homepage

          Even a poor snapshot is better than a blank white square.

        • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 20, 2012 @01:40AM (#41396001)

          You can't go into a museum and take a photograph, BECAUSE THEY DON'T LET YOU. They'll provide photographs if you want, but only under license.

          So the paintings are out of copyright, but the DRM, erm phyical barrier to them, WILL GO ON FOREVER. This is necessary to encourage Picaso to paint more painting, Van Gogh needs to be rewarded to paint more.

          • by spooje (582773) <spooje@nOSpAM.hotmail.com> on Thursday September 20, 2012 @02:24AM (#41396193) Homepage
            Actually most museums will let you take photos, but you can't use a flash or tripod.
            • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 20, 2012 @02:58AM (#41396273)

              Indeed. From the Art Institute of Chicago...

              Photography

              You are welcome to take photographs of the permanent collection and selected loan exhibitions. Please respect signage in exhibitions prohibiting photography of specific works of art. Photographs must use existing light (no flash photography) and are allowed with the condition that the images are for personal, nondistributional, noncommercial use. Flashes, tripods, and video cameras are prohibited.

              Members of the media should contact our Department of Public Affairs at (312) 443-3626 or aicpublicaffairs@artic.edu to arrange shoots for still photography and film.

              Emphasis mine. I'm not sure what the arrangements would look like for commercial use, but I'd guess they're usually expensive and very specific. As a side note, any school that makes it mandatory to purchase a $180 art book with no photos should suffer a lack of enrollment. That's disgusting, even beyond the usual, disgusting text book scam.

              • by 1u3hr (530656) on Thursday September 20, 2012 @03:49AM (#41396477)

                I'm not sure what the arrangements would look like for commercial use, but I'd guess they're usually expensive and very specific.

                Yes, that's what their sign says. But it doesn't have the force of law. They can make it physically hard for you to take the photos, but if you manage to take a photo of a painting 100 years old, the copyright of the photo belongs to you 100%. You can do anything you want with it.

                • by jimicus (737525) on Thursday September 20, 2012 @05:01AM (#41396793)

                  Taking this approach is well and good if you're an individual who wants a photo as a souvenir.

                  If you're a textbook publisher and you want well lit, high quality photos you can include in a textbook - and you're going to need hundreds of such photos because it's an art history book - you realistically have two choices:

                    - Hire a couple of photographers (Eeeks! Expensive)
                    - Send them to every museum you can think of that has works that are worth photographing.
                    - Ask them to take photos as discreetly as possible. With a couple of studio flashes, a good quality lens, an SLR and a tripod. And keep going back when they inevitably get kicked out until they've built up enough photographs.
                    - In the case of sculptures, remove them from their glass cases and spend ages arranging the lighting so the whole thing appears clearly without getting thrown out and/or arrested.

                  OR

                    - Buy photographs that the museum has already got at the fee the museum wants, on the understanding that the photographs will go into a printed book for students to look at.

                  I'd say the second one is a lot cheaper, and a lot less likely to guarantee you'll never work with a museum again.

                • by Zobeid (314469) on Thursday September 20, 2012 @08:11AM (#41397523)

                  I don't understand how its even possible for the photograph to be copyrighted. As far as I know, copyright only applies to original works. If I take a photo of a 100 year old painting, my photo isn't an original work. It's just a copy. How is that copyrightable?

                  I could use it in a collage or something, transform it in some way, and make something out of it that's copyrightable, but I don't see any way that a straight-up photo of the painting can be. Does not make sense. (But then, there's a lot about copyright law these days that doesn't make sense to me.)

            • that's why photographers use a 'step tripod' or string tripod. a string that is attached to the camera, runs to the ground and you step on the string and pull UP on the camera for taughtness.

              it helps. that, and the self-timer, goes a long way toward getting rid of camera shake.

              also, todays cams go to quite high iso's.

              its do-able.

              but the point is what a shame things have gotton to, when stuff like this is a barrier to common education. its hard to get my brain around why we think that only the priviledged

            • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 20, 2012 @05:43AM (#41396959)

              They don't let you use flash because it can cause chemical degradation to the pieces. Many xenon discharge flashes are many times brighter than the sun, so over time people photographing the works with flash illumination would be just as devestating as leaving the works in the sun.

          • by Cinder6 (894572)

            There are two reasons I actually like a "no pictures" policy.

            1. Tourists taking pictures are annoying. Just look and enjoy. Your camera gets in the way of that.
            2. Most people taking pictures would be too brain-dead to realize they need to turn off the flash.

            Bonus: If having to pay for a postcard in the museum gift shop helps keep that museum open, it's worth it. Though it sounds like they may be charging textbook makers too much. (Also: Why is the license to show them on a website more expensive than th

            • by Genda (560240) <mariet@ g o t . n et> on Thursday September 20, 2012 @03:40AM (#41396439) Journal

              Think about it, if your text book has 750 pictures in it, and you have to wrap a dollar bill around each image for licensing, your book in now $750 above your cost to publish it. Ergo an $850 test book. Which just goes to show you that the world is now officially Bat Fuck Crazy. Since the kids have to go to the web anyway to see the images, just turn the book into a webpage, with WORKING LINKS, and force each student to pay $180 to access the website for a semester. After the end of the semester, as a gift, they can have one of these image free door stops as a thank you for having taken this ridiculous class... or they can save the trees and waste of all other human resources and forgo dead tree version.

              So now we need to beat the author, the School Administration, and perhaps kill all the lawyers involved in passing the laws resulting in the absurdity. Then as a fitting finale, we can bring all the people responsible for this body of legal atrocities and who've put their profit ahead of the future education of our society and launch them to the moon without benefit of a space capsule. When their collective bodies hit the lunar surface we can rename the region Mare Stultitia et Avaritia, The Sea of Stupidity and Greed. We can take a picture of it. Put in a book at no cost and show our children this is what happens to scum sucking pigs. Its a dream, I know, but its a good dream.

              • by interkin3tic (1469267) on Thursday September 20, 2012 @08:50AM (#41397753)

                Which just goes to show you that the world is now officially Bat Fuck Crazy.

                Have some perspective: we've stopped talking about mutually assured thermonuclear destruction as if it were the most natural thing ever. We're starting to end the prohibition of pot, and haven't tried nationally to ban alcohol in decades. The west has not had anything quite at the level of the crusades in quite some time.

                One idiotic committee at one shitty school who made a very stupid decision about copyright doesn't mean the world is heading to legal hell in a briefcase. That said, I do think the idea of lynching some lawyers to set an example has some merit.

        • by mcvos (645701) on Thursday September 20, 2012 @02:22AM (#41396175)

          This is how many public domain works end up recopyrighted. Nobody is allowed to take photos of the original, and the only existing photos are copyrighted. This especially happens after an historic work of art has had some work done to restore it to its original glory. The old photos all show the unrestored version, and all photos of the restored version are recent and copyrighted. It's an ugly practice and needs to be outlawed.

          • by Kirth (183)

            You're wrong. It's NOT possible to copyright photographs of two-dimensional art. Copyright law only allows copyright on "original works of art". And photographs of text and pictures are not original. And there's not only the law (just about anywhere in the world, including the US and Canada) which doesn't give them copyright, but there are also court decisions support that.

            This doesn't keep photographers from claiming copyright, but actually, what they're doing is FRAUD. And the people doing that book could

      • by cpt kangarooski (3773) on Thursday September 20, 2012 @12:51AM (#41395801) Homepage

        Yes, while such slavish copying would not result in a copyrightable photograph here in the US, the school and textbook in this case are Canadian, and it is likely that photographs of public domain works in which nothing creative is added by the photographer are copyrightable anyway for some reason.

      • by wvmarle (1070040) on Thursday September 20, 2012 @12:54AM (#41395809)

        The cost of hiring a professional photographer to travel to all these museums (and probably a bunch of private collectors) and take all these photographs is probably higher than just buying these photographs from someone.

        Anyway at $180 a book one would expect to be able to get photos in it. The $800 each for copyright clearance as TFS claims sounds totally unrealistic to me. Works that are in museums should have photos available at low cost; privately owned works maybe a little more but also not too much. It's mostly stock photo work after all.

        • by mysidia (191772)

          Anyway at $180 a book one would expect to be able to get photos in it. The $800 each for copyright clearance as TFS claims sounds totally unrealistic to me.

          Perhaps it was just a small run book for one specific class at a specific school. So while the licensing fee for copyright clearance could be nominal, it might still be a lot of paperwork to be done, and a prohibitive cost for a book that might sell 60 copies a semester...

          It would cut down on a lot of legwork, to just not bother with printing ima

          • by Genda (560240) <mariet@ g o t . n et> on Thursday September 20, 2012 @04:17AM (#41396593) Journal

            Although, of course it devalues the textbook as well (IMO)... for no pictures or diagrams, the book should be less than $50 a pop.

            Are you mad! An art appreciation book with no pictures... here let me frame this in a context you might better grasp. You go to an adult bookstore. You see a hot little DVD, the clerk says "Oh, great choice, this is so hot, that'll be $180." You say $180! How can this possibly be! Is it that good?" He assures you it is, so you put down your money, and go home, pop it in the player and every time someone is about to consummate the boom chicka wow wow, the image is replaced with the URL pointing you to a site where you can see people engaging in sexual acts. Now, tell me, how are you feeling? How much is that DVD worth? Would you say that DVD is now worth only $50? Would "Devalue" even be the first word that popped into your head?

            This is education as rape. This is copyright gone bug fuck. This is student abuse in no uncertain terms and a dark cloud that threatens to extinguish education as we know it. What this is not is the devaluation of a text book. This is the devaluation of future society.

      • by AK Marc (707885)
        Presuming the photos were taken to portray the art as faithfully as possible, then the photos are not copyrightable. There is no "creativity" in making a copy, any more than a Xerox machine owns a copyright of every copy it makes. Even if it takes considerable skill and time to get such a faithful photo, it's still not "creative" to copy something faithfully.
    • by wvmarle (1070040)

      Old art works are not copyright protected of course. Everyone is free to make their own copies of such a work - make an identical painting, make a photo, print that photo.

      However the newly made painting and photo do have copyright on them. Just like you can not copyright a building or a person, but you can copyright a photo of that building or person.

      • by AK Marc (707885) on Thursday September 20, 2012 @01:33AM (#41395979)
        But you can't copyright something that isn't creative, and a picture of something designed to be as un-creative as possible (faithful to the original) is not copyrightable, even if it takes considerable skill and time to achieve the effect.
        • by wvmarle (1070040)

          Making a photo of an existing painting is creative, as you created something that wasn't there before.

          You are probably thinking of the popular definition of "creative" which means doing something original, special, and not obvious. That's another meaning of the same word. Luckily the makers of copyright law were smarter than that.

          And even though I wouldn't call your comment special or anything, you still own the copyright on your comment for the simple reason that you created it.

          • by tibit (1762298)

            Don't pretend that your definition of "creativity" is the same as copyright law's. Just because you produce something that wasn't there before doesn't make it subject to copyright law protection, not in the U.S. at least. There are plenty of things that you can make that weren't there before that won't be subject to copyright protection, and making faithful scans or photographs of flat art is one of them. What usually happens is that even though the photograph may not be subject to any protection, the terms

    • by mwvdlee (775178)

      If a book with images costs $800 and one with blank placeholders costs $180, imagine what a book would cost that was printed on 1/4th the amount of paper and just included URL's instead of blank placeholder boxes.
      In fact, why not just sell a $0.01 Post-it with a download link to a PDF file written on it?

    • A professor I knew who taught anatomy at the local medical school said they were using Grey's anatomy texts. Another professor, understandably shocked, asked "Aren't there any newer textbooks with color pictures of real anatomy they could use?" The first one replied that, yes, but they were copyrighted and generally couldn't be used for overheads without highway robbery, and the texts were expensive for the students. He said they would simply refuse to buy them, which wouldn't do well for the school's ra
  • Hmm. (Score:5, Funny)

    by Mister Transistor (259842) on Thursday September 20, 2012 @12:32AM (#41395707) Journal

    This is what great art has come to in our time: Michaelangelo's "Broken Link"

  • So (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sjames (1099) on Thursday September 20, 2012 @12:37AM (#41395723) Homepage

    They seem to believe that a url where you can see it online is as good as having it printed right in fromt of you. Were I one of those parents I would just hand then a piece of paper with a link to a picture of $180. Fair is fair.

    • Re:So (Score:5, Informative)

      by swillden (191260) <shawn-ds@willden.org> on Thursday September 20, 2012 @01:05AM (#41395855) Homepage Journal

      They seem to believe that a url where you can see it online is as good as having it printed right in fromt of you. Were I one of those parents I would just hand then a piece of paper with a link to a picture of $180. Fair is fair.

      Oh, I don't know... a printed image in a book has a pretty limited resolution. An on-line image can offer a lot more... take a look at the very high resolution imagery provided by http://googleartproject.com./ [googleartproject.com.] You can see the work as a whole or if you'd like to you can zoom in to see more detail than you could see if you were standing in front of the real piece.

      OTOH, I have to agree that having the images the text is discussing right next to the images would be much more useful if you want to, for example, study art history.

      • Re:So (Score:4, Insightful)

        by mysidia (191772) on Thursday September 20, 2012 @01:26AM (#41395951)

        Oh, I don't know... a printed image in a book has a pretty limited resolution. An on-line image can offer a lot more...

        Including a hyperlink or button to open a high-res version of an image on a reliable site (no Geocities or john doe's website, that might be down tomorrow, or replaced with advertising) could be acceptable on an e-Book, intended for consumption on a tablet with a high-def display, with an internet connection available at all times.

        You could read the eBook, and view the image in the same browser without exiting the book or 'breaking' your reading session or stream of thought; so it's as good as if the image were in the book.

        However, in a print work, for an art class a picture of the art in the book itself, is indispensable, should be considered mandatory.

      • by Altrag (195300)

        How much work can it be to click a link really?

        Oh, right.

      • Re:So (Score:5, Insightful)

        by phantomfive (622387) on Thursday September 20, 2012 @01:55AM (#41396061) Journal
        The problem with online is the colors will all be wrong.
    • To which the school will respond by sending you a link to a picture of your transcript.

      • by sjames (1099)

        If a pictureless art history book is the best it can do, the picture of the transcript probably IS just as good as the actual transcript, just cheaper.

  • by hsmith (818216) on Thursday September 20, 2012 @12:39AM (#41395737)
    Well file this under no fucking shit.

    Schools don't care, because they are making filthy money off of them, that have no incentive to do anything to reduce the prices.
    • Are the schools to blame though, or rent seeking stock photo sources? Some of the licences these guys try to pull are insane.

      • by Rockoon (1252108)

        Are the schools to blame though, or rent seeking stock photo sources?

        The stock photo sources didnt put a gun to the schools head and make them choose this textbook.

        In the case of Ontario, the Minister of Education creates a list of acceptable textbooks called the Trillium List [gov.on.ca] which the schools may then choose from.

        The question is, do you believe that this was the best art history textbook on the list? The guilty party depends on the answer.

        • by Another, completely (812244) on Thursday September 20, 2012 @02:15AM (#41396141)

          I don't think that list is relevant to colleges and universities.

          The Trillium guide explains that "School boards may select textbooks from the Trillium List and approve them for use in their schools." but the Ontario College of Art & Design is a university with a board of governors (6 individuals appointed by the Ontario government, 2 elected by the OCAD U Alumni, and 9 by the Board itself), not a school with a school board.

    • by Sir_Sri (199544)

      Schools don't care, because they are making filthy money off of them, that have no incentive to do anything to reduce the prices.

      Schools don't make money from the sale of books anymore, if you're dumb enough to buy from the university bookstore without checking online first that's a reasonable stupid tax. Gone are the days of waiting 6 weeks in a 12 week course for the textbook you ordered from amazon. Also, maintaining a storefront on a university campus can be surprisingly expensive, and have shitty sales. You have a captive market of poor people who don't really want to buy anything they don't have to, and no access to foot tra

      • by hazem (472289)

        Gone are the days of waiting 6 weeks in a 12 week course for the textbook you ordered from amazon.

        It's not as great as you say... yet. My AI class starts next week and we only found out yesterday what the book would be. Amazon has the book for quite a bit cheaper than the school bookstore, but says, "this title usually ships in 2 to 3 weeks".... "usually"? Even all the used sellers say it will take a 2 or more weeks to ship; and this for a book published in 2005. I'm taking the gamble with Amazon, but

        • by Sir_Sri (199544)

          AI Application Programming?

          I thought, and admittedly, I'm purely a game AI guy, so I could be wrong, but I thought that book was replaced by that author with some newer variant (the systems approach one).

          This is why we shouldn't recommend old books, just because you can get one copy cheap doesn't mean you can get a full class worth of them cheap. We had a prof at the last place I was that used to find textbooks from bargain bins to keep costs down. Unfortunately finding 150 or 300 copies of books that are

          • by hazem (472289)

            That is indeed the book. Oddly enough, the teacher who last taught the course used the newer book you mention, so I got it earlier this summer when I saw it cheap on Amazon. I assumed the teacher this fall would use the same book. I don't mind having the newer book... again another gamble - maybe I should have taken the game theory class I dropped last spring term.

            For this term, looking at the syllabus he's put out, I don't think there will be an urgent need for the older book in the first couple weeks.

            A

      • by Rockoon (1252108)

        Second of all, none of my computer science books have computers in them

        Do they have an empty spaces where a computer was meant to be, with a newegg URL so that you can buy your own?

        lots of them don't have code in them.

        Do they have empty spaces where source code was meant to be, with a URL?

        • by Sir_Sri (199544)

          Do they have empty spaces where source code was meant to be, with a URL?

          Yes, quite a lot of them actually.

          Most coding books these days have an online presence where you get the actual source code, and the text itself just points you to it.

          • by mrbester (200927)

            Computer science textbooks don't have code. That's for computer programming textbooks. Even then, they don't necessarily have code if their purpose is purely paradigms, concepts and methodologies.

              That book you bought for Comp Sci? It's for the practical application (programming) bit of your curriculum.

            • by Sir_Sri (199544)

              to quote myself on the topic

              Second of all, none of my computer science books have computers in them, lots of them don't have code in them. That is, believe it or not, not the point.

              A comp sci book doesn't need to have programming in it because comp sci is not all programming. I specifically mentioned coding books as not having code in them.

              An art book need not be about looking at art, it's about critique of art and discussion of the art. How representative the sample image is of the entire book I don't know.

              Also, I develop the curriculum and choose the CS textbook these days. Which is why I have so many textbooks, and I'm still not sure if students end u

              • by mcgrew (92797) *

                Second of all, none of my computer science books have computers in them

                Do your math books have numbers and mathematic symbols in them? If not, then they were exactly like an art history book without pictures.

                An art book need not be about looking at art, it's about critique of art and discussion of the art.

                It's an art history book. A critique of a work is useless unless you've at lest seen a representation of the work being discussed. An art book that teaches drawing (not the one under discussion) would need

      • by Cinder6 (894572)

        Some courses don't need pictures, you're right. But I think an art history book would be on the shortlist of those that do need pictures. If you look at the images on TFA, you can even see that the book has arrows pointing to various elements on the (not pictured) artwork.

  • by Rizimar (1986164) on Thursday September 20, 2012 @12:41AM (#41395745) Homepage
    Before I got halfway into the summary, I started to think that this was some kind of self-referential post-modern art book.
    • by kenj0418 (230916) on Thursday September 20, 2012 @01:12AM (#41395903)

      Maybe they are teaching the Art History majors their most important lesson "You have wasted your money."

      Normally it takes them 4 years of college and then a year or more working at Starbucks to learn that.

      • by Grayhand (2610049)

        Maybe they are teaching the Art History majors their most important lesson "You have wasted your money."

        Normally it takes them 4 years of college and then a year or more working at Starbucks to learn that.

        At least the Art History books have text related to art. The Liberal Arts one just has "SUCKERS" printed in big letters on the Index page.

  • TFA doesn't say why they couldn't find another book (or I just did a poor read).

    Art is hard to teach without pictures, just look at the examples given, "line, light, form, and color" without being about to see the line, light, form, and color...unless the placeholder borders are the lines, the form is the rectangle, and the color and light are combined by the stark white on the page where an image should be (God, it sounds like some obscure, abstract art already)..

    Think about it like this, it is a programmi

    • It's a scam (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Thursday September 20, 2012 @01:26AM (#41395955)

      The book likely is authored by someone who works at the university. So they write the book with all the pictures. Publisher says "Pictures are real expensive we'll have to charge a ton." So they leave the pictures out, and require the students to buy the book anyhow.

      You often find that the very worst textbooks are required by the teacher that wrote them (or they were written by the department head or so on).

  • Original Source (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 20, 2012 @12:44AM (#41395767)

    Link from summary - Salon: "This article originally appeared on Hyperallergic. "

    Hyperallergic - "What is this, October!? According to a blog post"

    Original Source: http://www.ashleyit.com/blogs/brentashley/2012/09/16/copyright-and-the-pictureless-art-history-textbook/

  • by OAB_X (818333)

    Having attended University, I fail to see how someone is "forced" to buy a copy of the text. Borrowing a copy from the library, borrowing a copy from a friend, etc. are all ways to avoid being "forced" into buying a text.

    Having made it through university without being "forced" to buy any texts for libral arts courses, I fail to see how the purchase of an art history text "forces" someone to actually buy the text.

    That and it seems that the ebook edition has the pictures in it.

    Stupid Canadian copyright law a

    • Re:Forced? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Formalin (1945560) on Thursday September 20, 2012 @01:02AM (#41395837)

      They've since invented codes that go along with the book - required to view online information and submit assignments, if the teacher is using their online framework.
      Naturally the code is only functional for a single semester, so even if you buy a used book, or share a book, you need your own code to submit assignments.

      They'll gladly sell you just the code, for the low fee of... almost as much as a new book+code cost.

      Cancerous as hell...

      • by mysidia (191772)

        They've since invented codes that go along with the book - required to view online information and submit assignments, if the teacher is using their online framework.

        Sounds like a lawsuit, or an administrative complaint to be made to the school, about being requested to make unreasonable expenditures to participate in the class, beyond the standard used book cost.....

    • by Sir_Sri (199544)

      I fail to see how the purchase of an art history text "forces" someone to actually buy the text.

      Generally it doesn't. This likely the parent of a first year who saw 'required' and thought 'required means required'. Not everyone knows these things, and it's not something you normally talk about.

      It's also possible however that the textbook is supposed to be actively used in class (where, for example, he may have all of the relevant images on the projector).

      I have had, in 1.75 undergrads, 2.5 masters degrees and most of the way through a PhD a few occasions where a 'required' textbook really did mean r

    • by AK Marc (707885)
      I've had classes require you bring a copy to class. No copy, no grade. You aren't "forced" to get the book any more than you are "forced" to take the class. "Forced" when talking about a class in an optional program is obviously not the "forced" of prison rape. You are "forced" in many cases because it's new this semester, there is nobody to buy/borrow from who isn't already in the class. It should be a requirement that all texts be in the library, but almost none of mine were, and the ones that were w
  • I call BS on the school. I took an Art History class in the US maybe 5 years ago, and it was chock full of really good reprints of famous works throughout history. The book cost me like $80.

    • by OAB_X (818333)

      OCAD is a very well known and respected school in Ontario. The school itself is not a scam. Having a textbook custom created by a company (Prentice Hall) is very expensive. And the economies of scale that come with a very large run for dozens of schools are not present. Especially if the photographs need to be licensed at a flat rate.

      • Sure, ok, but what makes more sense to give to art students: a book with a bunch of empty boxes, or an "off-the-shelf" book with pictures of the art? Whatever benefit they supposedly get from a custom-made book they should be able to get from lecture and teachers notes, at least compared to the bother and expense of the shite they ended up with.

      • Re:Bullshit (Score:5, Insightful)

        by SeaFox (739806) on Thursday September 20, 2012 @01:15AM (#41395913)

        OCAD is a very well known and respected school in Ontario. The school itself is not a scam. Having a textbook custom created by a company (Prentice Hall) is very expensive.

        And was it really necessary to have a custom-created Art History textbook?

        Those two core Art History classes (covering pre-history to around the year 1400, and the second covering 1400 to 1945) are a requirement for literally everyone who studies Art, regardless of major or if they're pursuing a BA or BFA, painting, sculpture, or graphic design, etc. It's not like there weren't oodles of candidate textbooks for their curriculum to choose from.

        The joke of this story is that the Art History department actually went along with Prentice Hall on this scam, instead of turning right around and looking elsewhere.

  • ...I picked up a DVDROM off the front of a magazine several years ago which had no less than 46,000 paintings digitally reproduced in printable resolution - including some of the more famous (Da Vinci's Mona Lisa and Il Cenacolo or L'Ultima Cena, Van Gogh's Tournesols, Van Eyck's Adam And Eve and The Adoration Of The Lamb, to name but a few). I've still got that disc somewhere. If the school need a decent source, they should see me.

    • by Altrag (195300)

      Having a source != having copyright clearance to use the material from the source. Not that you can't question their claim regarding copyright clearance, but simply having a copy of the photo available isn't sufficient.

      • common to most other similar material found on the front of computer magazines, the images were accompanied by public domain type licensing documents. Or restrictive licenses in the case of software (in this case it was a giveaway version of Paint Shop Pro which was also on the disc, free on proviso that the user registered for a free key). As it's always useful to have such documents attached to an image either via linking from source or as meta information, I tend to avoid copyright issues either by citin

  • Egads. The least they could have done is print QR codes linking to online versions instead of blank space...

  • It's a crying shame that no other art history books have ever been written or published. Ever.

  • by reverseengineer (580922) on Thursday September 20, 2012 @01:19AM (#41395923)
    Anyone here teaching a course might be interested in the comprehensive new textbook I'm writing. It has an attractive hard cover, a quality binding, and a single page inside which lists the URLs for Google and Wikipedia. My planned retail price is $499, but I'm willing to offer a volume discount.
  • by Bevilr (1258638) on Thursday September 20, 2012 @01:25AM (#41395947)
    There is a huge misunderstanding in the summary about what is copyright (the art vs the images of the art), and the comments so far do poor job of explaining it, so I'll try. What the textbook maker does not want to pay for is licencing is photos of the works of art. If you wanted to take your own photo of any of these works of art you could (so long as the museum allowed photography), but without setting up, lighting or permission of the museum to use flash, a nice camera, or the proper angle your photo might look like shit. Especially on larger images in poorly lit churches with bars over the chapel in which a work of art is hung, getting your own photo is next to impossible. Museum and private collections take super high quality photos of their work and then licence out these images, using these fees to support the collection. Why they would charge $180 for a book which is essential just text I don't understand. No one out side of these classes will buy the book at $180 if it has no images, so why not just cut the blank spots, and have an all text textbook that has footnotes or side-notes with links to the art the text is talking about? You'd save a number of pages of space from the new layout, and you no longer have to pay for glossy photo pages, you could even make it a paper back and reduce the price to $50 or $60 and probably make the same overall profit off the book, if not more.
    • by Kirth (183)

      You're only right for three-dimensional works of art. With two-dimensional ones, you're dead wrong. It's not possible to copyright a photograph, scan or photocopy of a picture or text, because it's lacking originality. Just read your copyright-law.

      So anyone claiming copyright on a two-dimensional replication of a two-dimensional work he does not hold copyright on is simply trying to the DEFRAUD the copyright holder -- and if that work happens to be in the public domain, he's trying to defraud the public.

      I'm

  • by narcc (412956) on Thursday September 20, 2012 @01:28AM (#41395961) Journal

    The next Slashdot Idle story will be ready soon, but Fark users can beat the rush and see it early!

  • because I almost choked laughing... oh my, oh my... what has this world come to. "To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts" and here is copyright in 2012 managing to do the exact opposite of BOTH these noble goals.
    • by tibit (1762298)

      I don't think U.S. Constitution applies in Canada. In many countries copyright is not set up to promote anything. Besides, you're presuming a whole lot. Namely that the book authors and publisher were competent. As far as I'm concerned, they were stupid as shit, and that's all there's to it. For all I know they could have crowdsourced the pictures of all the art they needed. You know, for fame and such, and the book could have been collaboartively done, etc.

  • by GumphMaster (772693) on Thursday September 20, 2012 @02:22AM (#41396181)

    Fraudulent claims of copyright requiring 'clearance' and (ab)use of gatekeepers to control access to public domain works, where no copyrights in the original works exist, is a common method of revenue raising that is well known and nothing new. "Copyfraud and Other Abuses of Intellectual Property Law" [copyfraud.com] by Jason Mazzone attempts to address this and other abuses of so-called "intellectual property" law with suggestion of ways to reform the law. Very US-centric but an interesting read anyway.

    (I am in no way affiliated with the author or publisher.)

  • the textbook for 'Global Visual and Material Culture: Prehistory to 1800' features placeholders with a link to an online image.

    I hope they don't plan to publish in the Netherlands, since linking is infringing [pcworld.com] there now.

  • by Geeky (90998) on Thursday September 20, 2012 @05:31AM (#41396919)

    Why not just throw in a free copy of this [amazon.co.uk] and refer to the page numbers!!?

    Seriously, I can walk into any local bookshop and browse through any number of books with reproductions of famous artworks, most of which are pretty cheap. They could do worse than picking up a copy of "The Story of Art" by Gombrich.

    Failing that, could they not take the position that Wikipedia do: 'The official position taken by the Wikimedia Foundation is that "faithful reproductions of two-dimensional public domain works of art are public domain, and that claims to the contrary represent an assault on the very concept of a public domain'?

  • It was an accident! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by lahvak (69490) on Thursday September 20, 2012 @08:47AM (#41397719) Homepage Journal

    It is pretty clear what happened. They are using a system that automatically
    downloads and inserts the images at the time the book is typeset. On the final
    run just before printing, someone accidentally switched on the draft mode.
    Nobody checked the pdf file, and they ended with several hundreds printed textbooks with placeholders for all the images.

    They wanted to throw them away, but someone had the brilliant idea to pretend it was done on purpose, because of copyright issues.

"It ain't so much the things we don't know that get us in trouble. It's the things we know that ain't so." -- Artemus Ward aka Charles Farrar Brown

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