Archive for the 'copyright' Category

Copying Art

Back in the days before copyright existed, it was not only common for artists to paint copies of famous art to learn how to paint, to learn their craft, but sometimes because that was the only way they could get access to the subjects they wanted to paint.

Take monarchs, for instance.

This is one of the many anonymous copies of the official portraits of Henry VIII.
[I felt that the framing of the digital image was a bit too tight; there wasn’t enough head room. So I’ve digitally reframed the picture, extending the space between the top of Henry’s head and the frame.]

Sitting for a painted portrait was a gruelling task, magnitudes worse than having your photograph taken. Still, it was one of the things that was expected of a monarch in the days before photography. In the 16th Century, the King of England was expected to take some time out of his busy schedule to pose for a official portraits on occasion.

But the King wouldn’t just sit for any artist, he’d only sit for the best.

In the same way movie stars and presidents and monarchs vied for a chance to be immortalized in black and white by Canada’s world class portrait photographer Yousef Karsh in the 20th Century, Henry VIII wanted only the best. Hans Holbein the Younger was a portrait artist good enough to be appointed King’s Painter, and his work immortalized both Henry VIII and his court. The most famous and perhaps most regal painting that Holbein created was on a mural on the wall of the Privy Chamber of the new Whitehall Palace.

Kinh Henry's official portrait made him look taller and more impressive

“Portrait of Henry VIII … is one of the most iconic images of Henry and is one of the most famed portraits of any British monarch.”

WIKIPEDIA: Portrait of Henry VIII

Henry himself was pleased enough with this work that he encouraged other artists to copy the portrait. What that means to both artists and historians of today is that the work was not lost, even though the original of that iconic painting was destroyed by fire in 1698.

But the painting lives on, and continues to be famous today because it was widely copied.

None of these artists would ever have been able to get access to the king, yet being able to copy official portraits undoubtedly gave them the means to make a living in the art field. Many of artists who made these copies never achieved fame of Hans Holbein the Younger, and many of the surviving copies of this and the other paintings of Henry were in fact painted by artists whose names have been lost. The attribution customarily given the copies is “after Hans Holbein the Younger. But although their names have been lost, an important work of art is preserved for the sake of both our history and our culture.

I don’t know any artists who want to see their work lost. Had the copyright laws of today been in place back then, this work would in fact be lost forever.

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gift card vs. cool gift

Doing some last minute Chrishanukwandiwaleid shopping today, my friend was telling me why she hates gift cards. If you’re going to give a gift, she said, give an appropriate gift. If you want to give a gift of money, give real money, not a gift card.

When you give a gift card, you are forcing the recipient to shop in a specific store. Maybe they can’t find anything they want there. Maybe it will be a hardship for them to get to that store. How many kilometers away is it? Is it accessible by transit?

When your recipient finds something in it they want to buy, if it costs less than the amount on the card, they might be left with a card that has sixteen cents left on it. Or if they buy something that costs more, they have to give additional funds to the store.

Who does a gift card benefit, anyway?

I’m wondering how many gift cards never get used. Even if each card is left with a few cents unspent, the store benefits. In essence, the gift card is more of a gift to the seller.

One of my favorite stores is a shop called Green Earth, which can be found in Conestoga Mall in the southern Ontario town of Waterloo.

looking at the storefront in the mall

It’s part of a chain, so you might find one in the mall nearest you, too 🙂

pegboard wall of masks

Find everything from masks…

faerie perched on the edge of a shelf

… to faeries …

a shelf fulh

… little piggies …

Buddha sculpture

… garden gurus …

a Woman is like a tea bag ... you never know how strongshe is until you put her in hot water

… pithy sayings …

Close up of a stuffed tiger's face

… and furry friends.

text reads: what good can come from a day ... that starts with getting up

Full disclosure: I am not affiliated with Green Earth except as a customer.  Green Earth is a great store full of fun and off the beaten path gifts. Chances are you’ll find just the thing for that hard-to-find-the-right-thing-for person on your list. Whatever you need to get for Chrishanukwandiwaleid

Sculptures of hands holding uo two fingers to form the peace  or victory symbol

Tell you what, if you decide it is cooler to buy a fabulous gift rather than a boring old gift card, drop round Green Earth this week.

When you do, make sure to tell them you read about it here in Lothlaurien’s Lore 🙂

Webby Awards: Animal Rocks

I wrote about this awesome video a while back. Sadly I found out too late to vote for the Muppet version of Bohemian Rhapsody which was nominated for a 2010 Webby Award. (That’s OK, I’m following the Muppets on twitter now, so I’ll know for next time.)

The Webby & People’s Voice Awards have announced the 2010 winners.

screenshot of the twitter page of Muppet Studio announcing Webby win

The Muppets win @WebbyAwards for both Music and Viral!! Congratulations to @MuppetsStudio for this awesome win! http://bit.ly/cwJtsH

Congratulations muppets!

And a special note to Animal— your mamma will be sooooo proud!

I would have linked to the Muppets site except when I tried, I discovered that muppets.com is actually part of Disney, which gives Canadians this brush off notice:

Muppets.com screenshot

There’s a thirty year old “Miss Piggy” sticker on my desk lamp.  I’ve been a muppet fan for a long time.

I remember attending the filming of a Muppet special out at CFTO Studios in Toronto in the 1980’s. It was cool, and I got autographs from Frank Oz, Dave Goelz and Jim Henson. I remember thinking it wierd that they kept the muppet puppets in black bags between taping segments.  Until the one time the production assistant was too slow with the bag.  Even understanding behind the scenes stuff, knowing that the muppets were puppets, it was simply too unsettling to see them so lifeless.

To Laurie - Jim Henson, To Laurie, best wishes, Frank Oz & Miss Piggy (with a flourish) To Laurie with love, The Great Gonzo! Dave Goelz

Although I was “too old” for Sesame Street when it began, I loved it anyway. And the muppets. One year when I was camp counselor we had great fun rigging this trick photograph. (Hint… the cards were stapled to make it easier for the puppets to hold them.)

Circa 1980's - Grover, Fozzie and Kermit sit around the kitchen table playing cards with me.

1980: That's me playing cards with muppets. Photo by Karen Shorney

And I know that Fraggle Rock was made in Canada as well. Of course that was back when Jim Henson was alive and before Disney bought the Muppets.

But now it seems Canada is the enemy.

So no, I don’t really see myself wanting to buy stuff from Disney.

Jack Kingston, The Canadian Playboy

The British Archive of Country Music has added Jack Kingston to their roster: JACK KINGSTON The Canadian Playboy CD D 296. One of the cool design features of B.A.C.M. CD releases is their graphic CD imprint which simulates a 45.

B.A.C.M. 45 style CD imprint

An earlier article I showed you a little bit about restoring screened images with one of the images I restored for this B.A.C.M. CD. As it turned out, they selected this image I restored for the cover of their CD release of Jack’s music.   (I’m not surprised because this is clearly a better portrait.)  Click on it to see the original.

A a black & white photograph pf Jack Kingston at a CHML radio microphones of the day is inset in a colour photograph of a lonely prairie that forms the background image.

It is great to see B.A.C.M.’s commitment to preserving and restoring this music that was originally recorded on 78’s. During the golden age of Canadian Country music, Jack Kingston was a very successful Canadian recording artist. A talent contest led to his launch as a CKNX Barndance Headliner, and he had a long and successful career appearing on CHML’s Mainstreet Jamboree radio show, appearances on television and many recordings.

Unfortunately, Jack Kingston is not very well known today. Although he was an important Canadian star, my guess is that Jack’s music remained locked behind copyright until fairly recently, yet the copyright holders never saw fit to release his music on CD. You’ll find very little about him on the Internet; most references to Jack Kingston refer to the other Jack Kingston, the politician of the same name. Unfortunately I fear that a lot of great music is lost because by the time the music comes into the public domain, nobody remembers the artist. Fortunately this deficiency has now been rectified by B.A.C.M. who have given Jack’s work a new lease on life.

But Jack Kingston was lucky to be Canadian recording artist since copyright terms run much longer in some other countries. The danger of very long copyright terms is that if no one is left alive who remembers the art or music, there is no one to keep the flame burning. By the time the work reaches the public domain there may be no one left alive who cares to publish it. That’s bad for society, bad for our culture, but most especially it’s bad for the artist. More than anything, most artists want their art to live on.

You can order the B.A.C.M. recording here. In the meantime, if you’ve never heard Jack Kingston’s music you might want to check out this nicely done music video I found on YouTube:

It’s good to that the work of this important contributor to Canadian Culture is not going to be lost forever anytime soon. Thanks B.A.C.M.

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