Thursday, January 07, 2010

What Would Al Dorne Think?

Here's a little story... a story about apples. A story about an apple orchard, actually, that I've spent a lot of time visiting over the years. Its a beautiful old orchard that was run by a local family when I was a kid. They grew an old fashioned variety of apples called "Russet" that didn't much appeal to me then, so I never even bothered stealing them. But we kids loved to visit the orchard and look around. It was situated far from the road and backed on some woods, so it was a great place to play.

Time passed, I left home and came back grown up. I now owned a dog and liked to take him for walks in the woods. One day I decided to revisit the old apple orchard and was surprised to see the place had been sold to one of those "agri-businesses". They operated it from afar... and actually, they didn't seem that interested in the apple orchard per se. They had planted the front acreage with cherry trees and pretty much let the old apple orchard at the back of the property grow over. Still, it was an excellent place to walk the dog, so I began visiting all the time. In fact, I visited so frequently, I started wearing a footpath into the place! I also noticed evidence that other folks were clearly visiting as well, perhaps to walk the dog, or perhaps to swipe the occasional apple.

To be honest, I swiped a few myself! Since growing up I'd gained a greater appreciation for the old fashioned variety of Russet apples. After a while, I actually got kind of bold and picked a few baskets of them to share with some friends. I noticed that once in a while some others were doing the same thing...

But one day recently I passed by there and was shocked by what I saw: somebody had come along and paved a road right into the back of the property! They'd posted a sign: "Free apples - help yourself!" As you can imagine, cars were streaming in there, parking every which way, and people were carrying out apples by the bushel! Pretty soon they'd picked every last apple off of every tree. The whole thing made me very uncomfortable...

I mean, I know the owners of the property weren't making use of the orchard, and for the most part the apples would just fall from the trees each autumn uneaten and compost back into the ground. But still, just paving a road onto somebody else's property and harvesting all their apples without permission seemed like a bad idea. Not appropriate.. and probably illegal.

So here's the thing: this isn't actually a story about an apple orchard. Its actually a story about the Famous Artists School.

Over the years, I've presented material excerpted from the old FAS course binders of the '50s and '60s. The FAS was sold long ago to new owners who continue to run an updated version of the school. Those owners contacted me after my early posts to say that they were actually pleased about what I'd done, because my excerpts (in which I included links to the school's site ) had driven some interested traffic there way. Great!

But now there's been a new development... a troubling one, that I actually heard about a few weeks ago. Someone has (I suspect with the best of intentions) paved a road right into the FAS's apple orchard... this person, I think, only meant to help others by giving them access to something he thought was going to waste. He probably thought this incredible bounty of beautiful artwork and valuable art lessons didn't belong to anyone any more... that the property had been abandoned, and that no one would care if he showed everyone the way in so they could take all they wanted for free...

Unfortunately, that's not the case. I just this hour received the following message from Magdalen Livesey at the FAS:

Dear Leif,

An unhappy situation has just come to light. Dan Caylor, at his onanimation blog, is offering PDF scans of all the pages from the 1960 edition of the Famous Artists Course. This material is copyright protected, so what he is doing is basically theft. The upsetting part is that so many of the people who have downloaded these are actually working artists who would be very distressed to know that someone was stealing their work -- yet that is exactly what is happening. It's not as if we are out of business or not findable on the web -- and certainly our artists and designers have as much right to be paid for their work as anyone.

Can you help get the word out? If you take a look at our blog, insideArt, -- you'll see my post about the piracy and also a notice about the new Course that we're about to launch on line.

I look forward to hearing from you -- and thanks!

Magdalen Livesey

As Magdalen says, as a creator of intellectual property I can't agree with what this fellow has done. I'm not sure if all those original faculty members would either, if they were still alive today. Al Dorne, who really is the originator and guiding force of the FAS, I'm sure would not be pleased. I want to give this gentleman the benefit of the doubt - I really do think that, like me, he was simply being (perhaps overly) enthusiastic in his efforts to help others learn about - and be inspired by - the masters of 20th century illustration.

But in this case, I think a boundary has been crossed. You know what they say about "the road to Hell being paved with good intentions"... this road into the FAS apple orchard needs to be bulldozed right now by the person who had the good intentions.

Picking the occasional apple is one thing, harvesting the entire orchard is not ok.


  1. Thanks for an informative post, Leif. If the FAS still sells these materials, it is hard to view what Mr. Caylor has done as anything other than theft.

    Section 107 of the U.S. copyright law provides that people can make limited “fair use” of copyrighted material for “criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching,” etc. because that is in the public interest. That is what many blogs do, including mine.

    The law describes what a person has to do to fall under the fair use exemption. However, it also makes clear that if someone reproduces and distributes an entire copyrighted work (rather than instructive samples) in a way that undermines the market value of the work for the copyright holder, that generally does not qualify as fair use. Sections 501 through 506 of the Copyright law list the penalties for copyright infringement, ranging from damages and injunctive relief to criminal penalties.

    If Mr. Caylor refuses to take down the infringing material, the FAS should be able to get satisfaction with a lawyer invoking those provisions.

  2. Cameron West7:09 PM

    I bought the 1960 course from an online bookshop and paid a fortune to ship it to the UK.So I've got every right to be pissed off that I could have downloaded it for free.But I'm not.
    If 20,000 people bought those books through ebay,dealers etc, not a penny would go to the FAS, so why should they expect to make money out of an old out of print course that they didnt see fit to reprint to supply demand?.
    Of course now they see an opportunity to make some money out of it they talk about 'theft' and 'copywright', so who would make the money? Briggs,Fawcett,Whitcomb? i think not. Leif, would you expect to pay royalties to family descendants of artists and publishers,unions etc every time you reproduced copies of published materials on your blog? I think not.I believe you do it to help and enlighten your readership, at no charge, for which we thank you. As far as I know that is exactly Mr Caylor's motivation.More power to him.
    The FAS could have offered a download service to help poor kids around the world learn to draw and paint? Did they? No, because they knew they couldnt make any money out of it.
    They should concentrate on creating as brilliant a contemporary course in art to make money than try to claw back cash from old material that they didn't care enough about in the first place.
    And shame on David Apatoff for his comments.

  3. Charlie Allen8:30 PM

    Fascinating Blog by Leif....and two very opposing comments on the subject. Great job of written illustration, Leif. Thanks, David Apatoff, for the legal clarification on copyright law, and use of published material. It's something I've wondered about for a long time. And thanks to Mr. West for an entirely different perspective. As an oldtimer, I'm always amazed at the fast pace of change....and this digital age is almost beyond comprehension for this cat. Great blog and comments. Oh yes....I'm way too old to eat crow....but TI has shown a lot of Dorne's work I had never seen. Great stuff and have to retract my 'mediocre' remark. No doubt about it....he was good.

  4. Cameron; I want you to take a deep breath and try to look at this a bit more objectively. Just because a copyright holder chooses not to put very old material back into print doesn't give the public the right to start distributing it in its entirety for free.

    If DC chooses to keep the first hundred issues of Superman in the vault, will you be scanning them page by page and making them available to the world for free download? Will you argue in court that Siegel and Shuster's descendants should be benefiting from any reprinting, and since they will not, but rather some massive media conglomerate would, then its only fair that the little guy who can't afford to buy the collectable original comics must be given a free alternative to access those first hundred issues?

    No, I don't expect to have to pay the families of the illustrators I present, but in an effort to respect the rights of copyright holders (whether I'm aware of them or not) I make a concerted effort to limit the amount of material I present to that which would be considered "Fair Use". Wherever possible, I seek out permission, I include obvious links to my sources, and I make a point to thank those people and companies that grant me the use of their words and images. I also try to add something to the material I present - analysis, criticism, or an educational component - all aspects of how to use otherwise copyrighted material within the boundaries of "Fair Use".

    Does this really seem so unreasonable to you? If you read my post again I think you'll see I went to great pains to give Mr. Caylor the benefit of the doubt. I really do believe he had the best of intentions. But I also feel in my gut that he went too far and that the right thing for him to do would be to take down his free downloads links. There is a basic philosophy about ownership of intellectual property that needs to be respected here. If you (and I'm speaking to the broader audience now, not just Cameron) are a creator of such , you should understand that.

  5. Hello everyone.

    I feel like I should leave some thoughts since I brought many people over to the download links. I have been having a similar conversation with Mr. Terry Brown.

    As far as my relationship with the books, I purchased them off of Ebay close to 2 years ago. I have read them through a number of times and credit them as an integral part of my education, especially since the artists that wrote them are among my favorites.

    Today's art institutions are lacking (I graduated from art school this past year). The FAC books are a tremendous resource that would benefit any motivated art student; effectively filling in many of the holes not gained from modern education. The modern FAC offers the books for $500 . The other alternative is Ebay, which I chose. Ebay sellers have been posting these binders regularly, and significantly cheaper, for quite some time. I wonder if the FAC contacted them? I do somewhat read this as them seeing an opportunity, due to the recent explosion of interest in them.

    But the fact remains FAC still owns the copyright, and I can't say anything to counter that. I see this as a victory for the illustration field since such great information is available to a large audience. I wonder if Mr. Dorne was in this situation when he was fighting in the streets, would he seize the opportunity for such valuable knowledge that he knew would benefit his work. I'm sure he would of. But share it with his artist buddies? I'm not sure. I think it's the sharing aspect that is in question. If Mr. Caylor is asked to take down the link, and he does, I feel all is well.

    I completely understand both sides of the fence, but as a young artist trying to make it, I may have to fight for the exchange of valuable knowledge. But I suppose if someone freely distributes my hypothetical book in the future, I can't say anything.


  6. Dorne, Fawcett and the others are long dead. I think their work should by now be in the public domain, like that of the renaissance artists. Copyright should not grant rigts for ever. ten or twenty years after the artist's death would be plenty.

    Nobody at the current company that calls itself "Famous Artists School" wrote and illustrated any of those lessons.

    They may have legal rights under current US law, but that law is wrong. It benefits corporations, not artists.

  7. I should add that the $500 item described at the link is clearly not the original course, as it lists only ten lessons. The copy that I bought through abebooks has 24 lessons.

    If the company was selling a good reprint of the original course material, they would have a stronger case.

    Incidentally, a similar problem arises with the Loomis books.

  8. re; "copyright law is wrong. It benefits corporations, not artists."

    Don; I think on a visceral level we all agree with that sentiment. But as with all things there are many shades of grey in these issues and anecdotally you'd find as many examples for extended copyright that benefit the creator ( and his heirs ) as against.

    For instance, Charles Schultz had the good business sense most artists lack to demand ownership of his Peanuts characters. I think he would want his heirs to benefit in perpetuity from his creations, don't you? Or do you think he'd be fine with Don Cox giving his life's work away to the world twenty years after his death?

  9. Francis;

    I think you had the best of intentions by enthusiastically spreading the word about Mr. Caylor's site. What concerns me is that you feel this is a victory for the illustration business. I completely disagree.

    If we as creators don't support the principle of the law that is intended to protect intellectual property, what moral right do we have to expect that protection for ourselves? I think you actually already understand this by your statement, "I suppose if someone freely distributes my hypothetical book in the future, I can't say anything"

    I'm still struggling with the notion that so many people are justifying this action with a sort of "Robin Hood" defense. "They should have made low cost reprints available", "The money wouldn't go to the original artists anyway, just some money grubbing corporation" Really? That's how this is justified? So if some private corporation had a massive warehouse filled with rare antiquities that really ought to be displayed in a public museum, but they choose for whatever reason not to do so, you all feel its perfectly acceptable to just walk right in and clear the place out because somebody unlocked the door?

  10. Cameron West8:25 AM

    My understanding is that Dover publications republish out of copyright -but useful material- like Willy Pogany's drawing course, Fawcett's drawing book or Kautzky's watercolour guide at extremely modest prices because they believe the public will be interested.
    Contrast this with the FAS who have made zero effort to do so... and then try to compare it with rare antiquities? There is absolutely no grounds for comparison.Who should own copywright on Shakespeare? His descendants?, descendants of those who first published him?
    The law is an ass in this area and anyone who defends this kind of greed needs to look at their own motives.

  11. Cameron West and Don Cox--

    "And shame on David Apatoff for his comments."

    "They may have legal rights under current US law, but that law is wrong. It benefits corporations, not artists."

    Gentlemen, I have seen this issue from every perspective-- as an artist who has produced copyrighted material, as a lawyer who has defended the copyrights of corporations, as a blogger who posts copyrighted material, and as a published author who has negotiated with cold hearted corporations trying to milk every last dollar from old intellectual property.

    In those different roles, I have seen a lot of gray areas and close calls, but for me, this one is not even close. It is not just illegal, it is plain unethical, and something that anyone with a sense of social responsibility would have paused before doing.

    There are lots of different participants in these disputes, but the ones I have the least respect for are the ones who don't add value or contribute anything themselves, but who feel that their personal moral code should override everybody else's. They get to decide whether a law needs to be obeyed or not. They get to decide who deserves the royalties from copyrighted material and who doesn't (if it is the original artist OK, if it is the company who paid that artist or bought the rights from him, forget it). They get to decide how the copyright owner should use their property ("help poor kids around the world learn to draw and paint"). They know best when it is time for a copyright owner to get out there and create new material rather than "try to claw back cash from old material."

    In my experience, you don't usually encounter such a sense of entitlement from the people who are the real producers in society (whether artists or business executives).

    The copyright law is written to take into consideration a wide variety of factors; if Mr. Caylor had given FAS credit and created a link to FAS, that would have been to his credit. If he had checked with FAS first, that would have helped his position. If he had commingled the FAS material with his own insightful commentary that people came to read, that would have helped this qualify as "fair use." But he did none of those things. He just scooped up someone else's valuable property in bulk and dumped it on the internet.

    Some people become so giddy over the ability of digital technology to assist in theft that they tend to lose what once was their moral compass.

  12. Thank for bringing personal experience, legal expertise and rational perspective to this discussion, David. For a minute there I thought I was shouting into the abyss.

  13. Cameron West10:07 AM

    The only reason people are even aware of the FAS is down to people like us eulogizing over the legendary 'product' online.
    So they have reaped a massive amount of free publicity which they can now use to promote their current courses.
    The original courses were REALLY expensive ,and popular, for which I presume everyone involved made a very good financial return on their efforts.Now I have read that the people doing the corrections and reviewing the assignments were not by any means 'successful' illustrators, more like college grads doing fill in work. Somewhat different to what the school led people to believe.
    But all that is history.
    And so were those courses.

    The FAS didnt bother to archive it online, they also didnt bother to market reprints.But they were content to sit on all that info on the basis of ' we can't be bothered to do anything with it, but we sure as hell are not going to let anyone else have it.'
    Like Dover they could have republished at modest prices and idioits like me could have saved a fortune by buying it directly from them, rather than expensive dealers.

    And now they want in.
    And Leif and David, whose blogs would be non-existent if they had to pay reproduction fees every time they used an image are defending them... and calling us thieves?

    Don's point about the Loomis books is spot on.I'd like to buy them but I can't afford $400 per book.And even if I could, the Loomis family wouldnt make a cent, does that make the dealer a criminal? If I had to download the book it would be because no other option is open to me. Or on a moral principle should I never be able to read the material becuse the Loomis family or whoever owns the copywright can't or won't make it available?

    "but the ones I have the least respect for are the ones who don't add value or contribute anything themselves, but who feel that their personal moral code should override everybody else's."

    What exactly do you add to the material every time you use someone else's work as content for your blog. Nothing tangible.
    But I bet you've benefitted from it, in the same way other artists -not businessmen- have improved their skills and lauded it online.


  14. Cameron; I could waste a lot of two-fingered typing in reply to that last comment of yours, but you've done such an excellent job of making yourself look like an ass that I think we'll just leave it at that. Thanks.

  15. Cameron West11:16 AM

    Well, of course.
    It's easier to feign offence and seemingly take the high ground, rather than than engage with the issue and justify the accusation that we are all 'thieves' when in reality we are doing no worse than you.
    I'm really surprised you and David would side with a law that was so ill-defined and morally grey it could prevent you from doing what you have been contributing -unpaid-for the last 3 or 4 years.
    That is a valid observation and in no way detracts from the value of Today's Inspiration.
    It is in fact in defence of it and all the other bloggers who commentate on archive material.

  16. Hi everyone,

    Again, the age old argument of business vs. authenticity and purity of art is up for debate. I feel it's a victory for illustration in general when such valuable knowledge becomes more accessible, thus, in theory upping the quality of work in the field. But for the illustration business... agreed it is not correct and lawful. So it's business realities vs. the artistic pursuit excellence. Which is funny since that is the topic Mr. Dorne is talking about this week, and offers good advice on how the two can co-exist. Illustration IS a business, which I am realizing more and more as I have to put food on my table and pay back truckloads of loans.

    I'm really trying to consider both sides of this, and honestly can't justify one more than the other. I suppose the gung-ho artist in me wants to fight for anything that will benefit the arts. But then that has historically not always been the best route to take.

    I hold Mr. Apatoff (a lawyer who is very qualified to discuss this) and Mr. Leif's work in high esteem, and am under equipped to offer much authority and useful commentary. I'm just hoping to communicate the sentiments that some of the people championing this situation may have felt.

    But Daniel has taken down the downloads, so I hope all parties have the closure they desire. As Mr. Apatoff mentioned, the digital age does raise many issues regarding the ease to which we are able to distribute otherwise copyrighted work. Hopefully this situation raises issues people will think about when it comes up in the future.


  17. Anonymous12:03 PM

    I downloaded, now I delete.

    I doubt I'm the primary target of the FAC's letters - the focus seems to be on those who distribute, but it seems implied that if the material was not meant to be distributed for free, I'm not meant to download it for free.

    I'm an art major at a local college. Dropping the cash to take these courses is not feasible for me at the moment. All the same, if the current copyright holder wants folks to pay for their material, I suppose they have every right to do that.

    If the FAC's actions are morally wrong, then what needs to be changed are the laws that allow them to do it. I am not making a call to arms here, as my opinion can be taken with a grain of salt anyway, but there's my 1 and 3/4th cents. ;) I'll let the more knowledgeable folks continue the conversation...

  18. Kyle D12:19 PM

    "But Daniel has taken down the downloads, so I hope all parties have the closure they desire."
    Justice, the American way.
    The sound of hollow laughter is ringing in my ears.

  19. I was glad to read that Mr. Caylor took down the FAS book, and I salute him for doing so. This is a complex area of the law and people understandably get carried away with enthusiasm for the creative works, but what matters is the judgment they make after they've had an opportunity to consider the situation.

  20. Hi, I've just left a comment on the FAS's website urging them to see this as an opportunity rather than a threat.

    I must admit that I have never been a great fan of intellectual property law as it is frequently abused to profit opportunists at the expense of the wider population, but the fact is that the FAS is still active, so these can't really be seen as abandonware.

    The only criticism I've really seen of the FAS is that they are 'sitting on' these works without making them easily available. There is clearly a market for this material, so it would surely be logical for them to now try to monetise that demand. Many people seem to be unaware that the FAS was still running, so this has in fact been good publicity for them. I doubt anyone who was going to take one of their courses will now not do so due to having some copied pdfs, however it is highly likely that they would be able to upsell courses to those that downloaded the pdfs and did not realise they were still able to actually receive tuition from the FAS.

    To hijack your fable, it would be like the large apple corporation noticing that people were helping themselves to old apples and asking them if they would like to buy some even better apples or other apple-loving related products. Ok, I admit my version doesn't work quite as well as yours, but I hope you get the idea : )

  21. Cameron-- "And Leif and David, whose blogs would be non-existent if they had to pay reproduction fees every time they used an image are defending them...?"

    Cameron, I think you're being too simplistic about this (and letting yourself off the hook too easily). A lot of intelligent and conscientious people-- representing all of the different interest involved-- have worked for decades to balance the competing considerations necessary to maximize "the public interest" in copyrights. As the law has been revised over the years, sometimes the legislators have gotten it wrong (as they seem to have with the new "orphan works" protocol) and often they have a hard time keeping up with new technology, but eventually the courts smooth out the rough spots using the accumulated wisdom from individual cases. During this process, the law has identified several relevant factors to decide what is "fair," and if you took the time to read them I don't think you would disagree with many of them.

    One important consideration is the impact that the copy will have on the economic value of the copyrighted property. If FAS is actively trying to sell these books and someone else offers them for free, that is like drilling a hole in the bottom of the FAS boat. Contrast that with what Leif or I do on our blogs: if I post an illustration from a 1950s insurance ad, that won't harm the copyright holder's efforts to sell insurance in any way. In fact, it may enhance it. Unless the owner is planning to sell posters of the image or license it in some way, a court is likely to conclude, "no harm, no foul."

    Similarly, courts infer a lot about the intention of an infringer by whether they copy an entire work, or just selected portions. I have never seen Leif post a whole issue of McCall's or Ladies Home Journal-- to the contrary, when people write in and ask him to post a full story so they can find out what happens, he frustratingly declines to do so. I often post one panel from a comic strip, or even a detail from that one panel, which would hardly damage the market for a syndicate that wants to sell reprints of those strips. Courts looking at such excerpts generally conclude that we are not siphoning off the profits of the copyright holder.

    There are many other balancing tests like this, all designed to establish what constitutes fair use. I believe that what Leif and I do passes almost every one of those tests. I believe that the action we've been discussing here passed none of them. I would be happy to explain my reasons in greater detail, either here or privately if you would prefer.

    Bottom line, it would be easy to forgive someone who went through the balancing process in good faith and reached the wrong conclusion. That happens all the time, and as long as they take the infringing work down nobopdy makes a big stink about it. My problem is with those who don't bother thinking about the balancing process and snatch someone else's property simply because they own a scanner.

  22. Wow! I go away for a few hours and miss so many new developments. Well, from the bottom on up then:

    David; Thanks for always keeping such a level head and calm demeanor in the midst of these often heated discussions. Your always rational arguments make me feel like saying, "Yeah! What he said!"

    Biggles; I applaud you for suggesting a 21st century solution to a problem mired in 20th century protocols. Thanks you - and I hope your advice is acted upon by the FAS. I'll go one farther and suggest the materials could be made available as Print on Demand hard copies if the company is hesitant to invest in and warehouse more traditional volumes.

    David again; I add my congratulations to your salute to Mr. Caylor for doing the honourable thing. The fundamental principle of ownership of intellectual property is reinforced by his correction of a well-intentioned but mistaken action. Bravo, Mr. Caylor!

    Kyle D, clean3d, and Francis V; I hope you will all read my final post of this week, which I am still finishing up. There you will find some interesting anecdotes about Al Dorne that speak to the issues you raise, on art and commerce, struggle, and the "American way." I hope you'll read and give the stories some serious thought and then comment some more. I'd be interested to hear if you are affected by the stories I have for you today.

    Cameron West; When you wrote "What exactly do you add to the material every time you use someone else's work as content for your blog. Nothing tangible" you lost me, buddy. That's why I refused to waste anymore breath on you. My offense was not feigned - you hurt my feelings by casually dismissing five years of research, interviews with artists and their family members, transcriptions (with only two typing fingers, btw), detective work pouring through old obscure books and magazines in search of rare photos and information, hundreds and hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars invested here in support of the images I present, all of which I make available for free to you and everyone else. "Nothing tangible?" I wish you could see the hand gesture I'm making at you right now, Cameron.

  23. Cameron West5:54 PM

    I think you make some fair points there,David.
    Mr Caylor was clearly not seeking to make money from the downloads.

    Up till now the FAS have not been making this material available, so logically how can you be stealing something if it's not for sale? (And I dont mean through book dealers as they don't pay royalties).

    The FAS are only NOW using this material, mainly as a result of the free publicity accorded them by some of us so-called thieves.
    All the original contributors and creators are now deceased.I believe.

    And in your words...
    "it is hard to view what Mr. Caylor has done as anything other than theft"
    That is a horrible accusation,and in my opinion ,if not the law's, quite unjustified.
    And if the law has been modified in the past who is to say that it is right now? It is only a snapshot of legal thinking at any one moment.

    So we come down to a subjective definition of 'fair use'.You believe you are on the right side of the line,someone could easily say you are benefitting from someone else's labour;if you were going into print with your blog,you would find it a lot harder to do what you do now.

    Regardless of whether you own a scanner or not.

  24. Cameron West6:11 PM

    Leif.You would be well advised to learn to control your quick temper and understand.

    "What exactly do you add to the material every time you use someone else's work as content for your blog. Nothing tangible."

    That means you neither get paid for all your work,nor do you pay royalties for the use of images.You add an intangible ie your analysis/commentary.How can you put a price on that?

    I'd rather not fall out with you but as I don't know you from Adam I don't really care.
    So I'll leave juvenile hand gestures to you buddy.

  25. Ugh. Unrepentant as a brick wall. Please, please just move along, you troll.

  26. Cameron--
    You write "Mr Caylor was clearly not seeking to make money from the downloads."

    I did not mean to suggest that he was. His liability under the law would be based not on whether he profited personally, but how much of someone else's value he destroyed. For example, if someone burned down FAS headquarters, they would not profit personally but would still be liable for property damage.

    You write: "Up till now the FAS have not been making this material available, so logically how can you be stealing something if it's not for sale?"

    The owner of the copyright gets to decide when and where to sell their product and how much to charge. That's part of the deal. They may take it off the market for a while if they think the market is saturated; they may time it to sell in connection with something else, or sell it in a different format. Sometimes companies guess wrong, but if they overcharge or fail to market their property aggressively enough, they go bankrupt and their creditors take over the rights and have an opportunity to do better. But the solution for their bad judgment is not a free for all, where anyone can jump in and help themselves.

    You write: "if the law has been modified in the past who is to say that it is right now? It is only a snapshot of legal thinking at any one moment."

    Unfortunately, no one has ever avoided prosecution using the defense that someday the law might change in their favor. When I used the word "theft," it wasn't intended as some gratuitous insult. I mean that the law says when somebody wrongfully converts someone else's property for their own use, it's classified as "theft."

    You are right that some aspects of the law will always remain "subjective." It is unavoidable. But the goal of civilization is to minimize the subjective parts so that the rules can be understood by, and applied equally to, all. Objectivity is an elusive goal, but if people are willing to work toward it, we can get a lot closer.

  27. The real problem is that current copyright laws in the US allow copyright to go on for far too long. Ten or at most twenty years after the author's death would be plenty.

    When I did a day's work back in the 1960s, I was paid for it then. I don't expect to be still demanding income from it fifty years later, and certainly not for my relations to be claiming income. I am all for inheritance of investments and real estate, but inheritance of wages is absurd.

    The private interest of individuals and companies has been allowed to outweigh the public interest. The general public should have free access to historical material.

    That said, if the curent owners of the "Famous Artists" brand were to issue a facsimile reprint of their courses in paperback (no need for the expensive binders), I would be very likely to buy. Just as I am currently buying all the reprint editions in the Library of American Comics, and Disney's Blu-Ray releases.

    But the law in the US is wrong and needs to be changed.

  28. The material is under copyright protection - end of discussion. It doesn't matter how those who stole it feel, even if they have "Robin Hood" intentions. The foolish part was that site making this easily available at their own front door. Ignorance of copyright law would be no excuse.

    Unfotunately for FAS the genie is out of the bottle. Many people now have the PDFs and no doubt there will be torrent file access to them soon if not already.

    The movie and music industry has been dealing with this issue for some time now, and it will never go away. The sad thing is we're stealing from ourselves by lessening the value of this material and everything it teaches us. What will we do with what we learn? Sell it to theives?

  29. dbclemons: I agree with most of your statements, especially about the legalities, but:

    "The sad thing is we're stealing from ourselves by lessening the value of this material and everything it teaches us. What will we do with what we learn? Sell it to theives?"

    Well the hope is that many people are downloading this to improve their work and abilities and can contribute a higher standard of excellence for the illustration community. I truly believe if every art student read through these just once, the whole field would sky rocket. The situation was not malicious in origin, just young artists trying to attain knowledge. Again, I'm not justifying the legalities, but you seem to suggest there were harmful intentions, and there most certainly were not. Hopefully people are more informed on copyright now that the situation is closed.

  30. In a related manner, the streaming art lessons available from the folks at were being illegally downloaded... (I believe something like a million unauthorized downloads?)... before they managed to plug that hole. I'm only guessing but I imagine its was by the same large group Francis is talking about: young, eager hopefuls who will of course benefit tremendously from the lessons of what could arguable be called the "Famous Artists" of the 21st century - but is that justification enough to simply take what you know deep down isn't really free?

    Again, I suspect these eager kids have no malicious intentions... but the irony is that the founders of created the community and the streaming "virtual classroom" because they wanted to create a low cost alternative to traditional outrageously expensive bricks-n-mortar art schools - exactly what Dorne intended half a century ago.

    I think the accepted practice of an entire generation is that you simply don't pay for content and that copyright is meaningless. Some of the commentors here who don't have the excuse of being born and raised in the digital age seem to have adopted that same philosophy...

    Of course that philosophy will come back and bite all those young artists on the ass when its their turn to try to pay a mortgage and raise a family with the intellectual property they create.

  31. Leif: touche. Yeah, there is not justification in that. I think the folks that downloaded the FAC lessons, mainly, didn't consider the copyright info. The people breaking in and grabbing the videos know outright that they are stealing.

    I think the FAS course to many students (and it's partly my fault since I spread the word) were these links to very old material that people were hyping up. They may not have considered the legalities of there actions. Similar to finding a very interesting paper on the floor that ends up being useful to you. But actually that paper belongs to someone else, unbeknownst to them.

    Now if that person broke into a store and grabbed the documents they wanted, that's outright wrong, no one can justify that.

  32. I completely agree, Francis - it is hard to imagine any harm in making such old material available freely - and an ongoing process for all of us to learn how to play by the rules, myself included. :^)

  33. Even though there was no malicious intent, Francis, it was still a mistake. What's done is done.

    I'd like to suggest to those who feel magnanimous that the best way to recycle this material is to teach it. Make it your own and pass it on, just remember to give due credit.

  34. Folks,
    As a 1967 and 2001 graduate of FAS I can tell you it is alive and well. Contrary to what some have said, all work is graded by artists who are professionals.

    The basal text for this course is the 1960 edition which includes material from earlier editions. Hence, copying them is a copyright issue (even though apparently inadvertently done).

    It is good to see that when the issue was made known, professional courtesy won the day because the material was removed from sites.

  35. Daniel said on his blog that he wasn't contacted or asked to remove them. This makes it appear to the casual reader, such as myself, as though FAS instead chose to contact you and as a result, what comes across to me taking everything available into account here, is that they in effect asked you to help call him a thief publicly and you obliged.

    He maintains that a simple note would have been enough to remove the content. He's just a kid who loves art and tried to share some knowledge. Yes, there are copyright laws that were violated, he was wrong and he shouldn't have posted it.

    I'm just curious to hear if you asked if they communicated with him to ask him to stop before you wrote about them apples.

  36. That apple story was so unneeded...
    By the way, this is not even the first time that the WHOLE curse has been shared on the internet.


  37. Anonymous6:25 PM

    You people are all so quick to jump into something that doesn't even involve you. If he has been stealing, it's between him and that company. They don't need a mob of village idiots to pick up pitchforks and go after him. Oh, ahem, I mean "spread the message."

  38. Ill be 80 thousand dollars in debt when I graduate from the art Institute...I wasn't aware of Famous Artists Course until enthusiasts shared what they had in blogs across the web...Had I known about this course before I started I wouldve saved myself X amount of money. When you pay so much money and almost everything you learn is focused on using ever evolving programs (you can learn on your own) you kind of begin to feel scammed. Just as big business does what it does for its own benefit I can hardly blame students/professionals alike for doing what they do for themselves . I say too bad to the Famous Artists Course just like my school would say to me. Now- if I was getting the proper,complete education that Al Drone would sell at my school then I wouldnt say anything- but the fact of the matter is good schools are scarce, far far away and theyre expensive. And to top that off most instructors are horrible. So what do you expect?

  39. I'm really going to try to not lose my cool with the latest round of Mr. Caylor's defenders. Here goes:

    Jason Campbell; I don't think I called Mr. Caylor a thief... if you'll take the time to read through my post and ensuing comments carefully I think you'll note that I went to pains to mention on several occasions that I thought Mr. Caylor meant no harm -- that he was well intentioned in his efforts. Will you give me that much credit?

    Mr. Caylor is probably a lovely guy and I'll say again that I genuinely believe he had the best of intentions - but he very publicly undertook an illegal act and there are certain ramifications to that. I don't have any obligation to pursue any sort of background investigation into what the FAS administration had or hadn't done in the course of attempting to shut down his activities. You and Mr. Caylor's other supporters seem to keep wanting to turn the burden of responsibility around to other parties ... "he wasn't contacted or asked to remove them" ... "I'm just curious to hear if you asked if they communicated with him to ask him to stop". I'm sorry, but the onus for this mess is on Mr. Caylor - you or I or anybody else can express their opinion about it. My writing about "them apples" was exactly that.

    dany; what exactly does "need" have to do with any of this? To follow your logic, your comment was "so unneeded". Yes, exactly what would Al Dorne think? The fact that you "laugh out loud" about that question suggests you need to think about it some more. If you have something more thoughtful to add please know you're welcome to comment again.

    Anonymous; I always have less respect for those who comment anonymously - please have the guts to attach a name to your comments in future, especially if you're just coming here as part of "a mob of village idiots with pitchforks in hand" to attack the people who are standing on the right side of the law. Since Mr. Caylor acted in a public forum the public is aware of his actions and it therefore is not just between him and the company. As a member of the public I can comment on something that happened publicly, ok?

    ... and I almost made it through that without getting steamed. Oh well...

    Alex M; that's about the most cynical attitude I've ever heard coming from someone who intends to make a living with his creativity. Imagine some day you have invested a lifetime of your experience into an art course and built a valuable company out of those years of effort and sacrifice. And when the day come that you are able to sell that company and reap the rewards of all your hard work somebody uploads everything you worked for and renders a lifetime of your effort worthless.

    The last people who should ever, ever feel its ok to steal the intellectual property of another - be it an individual or a company - are creators.

    Philosophically, morally, you should be opposed to the theft of intellectual property. By saying its ok because "everybody does it" you place yourself on the moral low ground. Please have more respect for yourself than that. I am going to assume you are feeling discouraged by your personal situation right now and that you'll change your mind one day when you've had a chance to use your abilities to make a good living. Keep your chin up and always try to do the right thing.

  40. legality, opinions on theft (implied or inferred), and copyright laws aside - I still think a bit of professional courtesy would have been more appropriate. Rather than berate Mr. Caylor publicly, a simple email from you or the school probably would have been a much more appropriate response.

  41. Perhaps I came across too literal, what I meant by helping them was more related to the text of the letter you posted in which they referenced the "theft", your helping being the gift of a public voice, I do give you the credit for acknowledging that he meant no harm.

    I'm not trying to support him in the act, and I'm not trying to label what he did in any different terms, I enjoy his blog true but I wouldn't try to justify theft of any kind and it is true there are consequences and it is the right of anyone who is a victim of theft to seek justice there and as with anyone who is a victim of theft, like I have been, I hope they would find it if they choose to pursue it.

    I don't maintain that you had to confirm any of their efforts with them before you shared your thoughts I was just curious if you had.

    I was merely trying to obtain a little more insight into this because while there is no excuse for the act, and as you also seem to be of the mind that there was no malicious intent, because he is just a kid who loves art, this just came across as a public rubbing the dog's nose in his own mess, that initially leaves a bad taste in not just fido's mouth.

    Of course you have every right to express your opinion, it's your blog have at it. I was merely just trying to understand the sentiment behind it a little better and I think I am there so I'll just say thank you for your response to my question and all the best in the future.

  42. Jason Campbell;

    Thanks for your even tempered reply. To clarify, no, I didn't ask if the FAS administration had taken any sort of action. I posted the note from Magdelen Livesey so that readers could get the message directly from the party affected and not filtered through my interpretation of it. For clarity and transparency. As Ms Livesey pointed out, there are working professionals at the FAS - "artists and designers" - whose livelihood will be affected by what transpired.

    "Rubbing the dog's nose in it" suggests some sort of willful intent to hurt Mr. Caylor personally and of course nothing could be farther from the truth. What's been discussed here is a larger principle. Mr. Caylor's actions just happen to be the subject of the discussion.

    I'm glad you were able to see that on closer inspection.

  43. Jacob; You can't just set aside "legality, opinions on theft (implied or inferred), and copyright laws". Those issues are the basis of the discussion as well as the basis of professional behaviour. To then go on to suggest that extending to Mr. Caylor the professional courtesy of a email once again puts the onus on the wrong party. Let me put it this way: since you feel that Mr. Caylor deserved the professional courtesy of an email before any other action was taken, do you think Mr. Caylor should have extended the professional courtesy to the FAS of doing a Google search, discovering the school was still in operation, emailing them and asking if they would mind if he gave away their entire course for free?

    Or does this professional courtesy thing only go one way?

  44. JohnLank2:40 PM


    Well-intentioned mistakes were made. Those who made them showed their professionalism and character by making corrections. They are to be commended. This should be the end of the matter.

    As an FAS grad.,let me encourage all to really look into the FAS program for the best "bang -for-buck" in art instruction.

  45. John;

    I am especially grateful for your contribution to this discussion - thank you. Its great to have the perspective (and endorsement of the FAS) from a graduate of the program.

    I think you said it all. Let's hope others feel the same way :^)

  46. This comment has been removed by the author.

  47. Hi, long time reader, first time commenter. Love the blog, I know this is an old post but I can't help myself. I hope I have a civil tone.

    While your Apple Tree analogy is nice, but it doesn't work. In order for it to work the trees would have to be magic trees where every time you pluck an apple you take a copy of that apple but the orignal apple stays on the tree. So as other people discover and pave a road to the apple trees, the trees never run out of apples.

    Don't get me wrong. I agree with you, people should not steal these books. A lot of people worked very hard to produce them. But we are living in a new economy, if you own the rights to a title like this one you should either make it available or get out of the way. That sounds harsh but it's true. That's the lesson of iTunes. Every song on iTunes is available for free on line. But iTunes makes million every week.

    The idea that every download of the book is a lost sale is just not true. Most people will download it to find out what the fuss is about, then their minds are opened to these new ideas. That's what we want isn't it? If they read it, they're more likely to buy a hard copy mostly because reading a PDF sucks. If they don't buy it, they're more then likely not to ever buy it or even finish reading the PDF file, either way there's no loss to the book seller.

    BTW if you've bought your copies used then technically what your doing is no different then downloading a PDF. The people who own the rights to the books don't get a dime of what you paid. The only difference is you didn't leave a copy for other people to enjoy.

  48. Ethan; Thanks for relighting the candle. Its "The Comment Section that Would Not Die. ;^)

    Glad you threw in your two cents and in such a nice conversational ( as opposed to confrontational) manner. Again, thanks.

    While my apple tree analogy isn't perfect, I do think it works. Apple trees tend to grow new apples each harvest season thus restoring their value as a commodity. You and I may be parsing hairs here in an effort to describe the exact timeline of how quickly an apple should reappear on the tree... but the point is the same, yes?

    Regarding your advocacy for the new economic model. I'm more inclined to go along on that ride than some of my adversaries in this comment stream might think - but that still ought to be the choice of each individual copyright holder and their ownership ought to be respected so they can make their own choices about joining the new economic model. This is what we call being respectful of other people's property and is enshrined in the long lineage of civilized society under a general heading of "Thou Shalt Not Steal" or "Everything I Know About Playing Nice I Learned In Kindergarten" - take your pick.

    You agree that the people who DL'ed the PDFs were stealing the books so I think, again, we're on the same page.

    Buying the used copies of the original printings is not technically the same thing as DL'ing the PDFs because the company should have a reasonable expectation that authorized hard copies they made money on will eventually be resold (possibly numerous times). Its a reality that hard goods like books have a long shelf life and become a commodity other than what they may have originally been intended as. Originally the FAS books were a vehicle for disseminating knowledge to course subscribers... now they have become physical objects for collectors - and have the secondary function of also continuing to provide knowledge.

    The PDFs represent potential new sales that will go unrealized (whether the owners of the material choose to realize those sales or not). There are a limited number of authorized hard copy books in the world that are physically deteriorating over time while the population that wants them is growing, increasing their value as a collectible commodity as they become more rare... the PDFs are a vehicle for dispensing the knowledge in the course - that's their primary function - and are unlimited in number from this point forward.

    Its late, I'm so done with this subject... but I appreciate you commenting and encourage you to do so more often. :^)

  49. I'm a little late to this party, but I too have posted segments of the Famous Artists Course.

    Current fair use laws are extremely vague and dangerous for individuals to depend on. You can claim protection under the fair use provisions, but until you are sued and a judge makes a ruling, it isn't officially "fair use".

    When I first came up with the concept for the ASIFA-Hollywood Animation Archive, I did a considerable amount of consultation with an intellectual property attorney. I learned that fair use alone wasn't a strong enough foundation to build the resource I had in mind upon. But the Sonny Bono Copyright Extension Act provided for a looser definition of what constituted fair use if...

    1) The entity claiming fair use is a 501(c)(3) non profit organization with a charter in the arts.

    2) The organization provides the copyrighted material in an educational context.

    3) The organization maintains a physical location open to the public and available for free to all.

    It took me year to lay the groundwork to be able to securely claim fair use for what I do under these provisions. It's extremely difficult to maintain this sort of a resource on donations alone. I'm not going to criticize those who don't go the same route I did. It's important that the information be available. Each person can make their own determination as to what is best for them.

    I'm not a lawyer, so I can't give legal advice, but I would encourage anyone who wants to claim fair use to seek professional advice. Copyright law is neither logical nor fair. But it is what it is.

    Stephen Worth
    ASIFA-Hollywood Animation Archive

  50. Buying the used copies of the original printings is not technically the same thing as DL'ing the PDFs because the company should have a reasonable expectation that authorized hard copies they made money on will eventually be resold

    "Doctrine of First Sale"

  51. Anonymous12:09 PM

    Stealing is stealing. Whether you steal an apple or a bushel of them. Or whether you steal an apple to feed yourself or a whole bushel of them to feed a community, it is all stealing. The person who posted the books did not do so to make a profit, so everyone that wants to call him a thief should review their own blogs and see if they obtained the legal right to post all the artwork that they have "reviewed" over the years. Fair use is a myth. Its black and white, you take anything without permission its called stealing.

  52. Is Anonymous is being ironic? Can't tell. Sounds ironic to me.

    Fair use is real. Let's start with with Isaac Newton, after all none of his ideas were his own:

    "Isaac Newton was one of the world’s great scientists because he took his ideas, and the ideas of earlier scientists, and combined them into a unified picture of how the universe works."

    If Galileo was able to copyright his ideas the same way we do today then it's possible that Newton wouldn't be able to use any of his ides for 70+ years. How different world the world be today be if the theory of gravity would have had to wait 70 years?

    Yes this is an extreme example, but it's a clear example. Newton used other people's ideas, kids today can use ideas from these books. These books are not available to the public. My worry is that some kid is going to listen to all this and not download the books for fear that they are doing something wrong, and because he doesn't download it he doesn't learn the technique and doesn't create that one drawing that I will find amazing.

  53. Anonymous3:08 PM

    Leif's analogy was an attempt to see something from FAS's view. A noble thing! And rather than squabble about "his rights" he instantly made amends and others followed. Character won the day and should close the case.

  54. Jlank3:13 PM

    sorry. The 3:08 post is by Jlank not "anonymous. I always sign -in.

  55. Anonymous10:11 PM

    WOW. I've never been here before, but Leif, I think you're beating a dead horse. I think these guys must be all friends, defending each other. There's just too many against you. Anyone with a sense of morality, (or sense, in general,) has to know that it's wrong to steal copyrighted work. If you open a book, it CLEARLY states that you have to gain permission from the author, in order to even make a copy or reproduce the book in any way. And I'm not coming back here, and defending my statements, either. It's a waste of energy. Leif, if I were you, I'd let this thread die, then they will have no one to try and prove their "logic" to.