The Errata Editions Books on Books series is an on-going publishing project dedicated to making rare and out-of-print photography books accessible to students and photobook enthusiasts. These are not reprints nor facsimiles but comprehensive studies of rare books. Each in this series presents the entire content, page for page, of an original master bookwork which, up until now, has been too rare or prohibitively expensive for most to experience. Through a mix of classic and contemporary titles, this series spans the breadth of photographic practice as it has appeared on the printed page, enabling further study into the creation and meanings of these great works of art.
Each in the Books on Books series contains; illustrations of every page in the original photobook being featured; contemporary essays by established writers on photography composed specially for this series; production notes about the production of the original edition; biography and bibliography information about each artist.
What was the inspiration for creating the Books on Books series?
This Books on Books series was inspired by the frustration of not being able to access the content of many of the important photobooks the medium has produced. We find it distressing that these bookworks are no longer available to students or new generations of photographers. The consequence is, part of the dialogue that could be taking place on these works has been stunted because of the inaccessibility of this material.
Why not just reprint the original book again?
What isn’t common knowledge is that many of the books that we are going to feature in this series will never be reprinted in their original form again. That restriction comes from the artists themselves through their reluctance to keep revisiting and publishing old work. If you have ever wondered why these great books haven’t been reprinted, that is a very common reason.
The first question we ask any artist or estate when considering pursuing a Books on Books edition is “Are you open to reprinting a modern edition?” If they respond “Yes” then we usually cross that title off our list. If they respond that they don’t forsee that ever happening, we push hard to include that title in our series.
The main objective of our series is scholarship and accessibility. We want our books to add context and information that extends beyond the original content through the inclusion of additional essays that discuss the original book’s historical significance, book production, and biographies and bibliographies of each artist. Facsimile reprints tend to quickly go out-of-print and become valuable and expensive collector’s items themselves. That is not what we are about. We strive to keep our books in print if they sell out. We are not making collector’s items. That defeats our purposes for doing the series.
Isn’t there an issue of copyright?
The basic rule in approaching copyright issues is to believe someone out there holds the copyright and you’d better search out who that person is. We clear the rights to not only the photographic work but also for any texts that appeared in the original book. We also, when possible, approach the original publishers if they are still in business. Beyond the legal obligations, contacting the parties that were involved in the original book is a necessary step since it helps greatly with researching and writing about these rare books.
Did any of the respective publishers put up any opposition?
We have found that people we approach about this project see the importance in what we are trying to do and we have faced little opposition at all. In fact, most volunteer information and contacts to us to make this process easier.
How do you choose the books that appear in the series?
We have made a list of books we would like to feature in the series. Some are well known, obvious choices, and and others are more obscure. The books featured will be a mix of classic and contemporary that spans nationality and the breadth of practice in the medium.
We are approaching curating the series with subtle themes in mind that connect the books in interesting ways with the hope that it inspires thought and a deeper reflection on the rich history of photography on the printed page.
Richard Prince scored an important win at the Second Circuit Court of Appeal against photographer Patrick Cariou yesterday. And it could have big implications for artists who appropriate artistic work that’s gone before. As you may know, Cariou had successfully sued Prince for copyright infringement, claiming that the artist appropriated his copyrighted photos of Rastafarians taken in Jamaica for a 2000 book, Yes Rasta. Prince had admitted taking the work, altering and incorporating the photos into a series of paintings and collages which he called Canal Zone. These were exhibited in 2007 and 2008 at the Gagosian in New York. In 2011 a judge ruled that Prince’s work inappropriately borrowed from Cariou’s.
For reasons known only to himself, Prince declined to defend his appropriation on the basis of “fair use,” and because of that, at a lower court, Cariou had been successful in his case against the artist. Yesterday, however, the Second Circuit reversed the decision in part with judges finding that 25 of the 30 Prince works in questions are indeed fair use. A lower court judge will determine the remaining five.
According to Second Circuit circuit judge Barrington Parker’s decision, “What is critical is how the work in question appears to the reasonable observer, not simply what an artist might say about a particular piece or body of work. Prince’s work could be transformative even without commenting on Cariou’s work or on culture, and even without Prince’s stated intention to do so.” You can read a bit more about that intricacies in the court documents which you can read in full here.
“These twenty-five of Prince’s artworks manifest an entirely different aesthetic from Cariou’s photographs,” writes Judge Parker. “Where Cariou’s serene and deliberately composed portraits and landscape photographs depict the natural beauty of Rastafarians and their surrounding environs, Prince’s crude and jarring works, on the other hand, are hectic and provocative.”
The judge also notes that Cariou used black-and-white while Prince created collages, incorporated colour, and made other distortions. ”Prince’s composition, presentation, scale, colour palette, and media are fundamentally different and new compared to the photographs, as is the expressive nature of Prince’s work.” Despite Prince’s unwillingness to argue the transformative nature of his work more strongly, the appeals court came down on that side anyway:
“Here, looking at the artworks and the photographs side-by-side, we conclude that Prince’s images have a different character, give Cariou’s photographs a new expression, and employ new aesthetics with creative and communicative results distinct from Cariou’s. Our conclusion should not be taken to suggest, however, that any cosmetic changes to the photographs would necessarily constitute fair use. A secondary work may modify the original without being transformative. For instance, a derivative work that merely presents the same material but in a new form, such as a book of synopses of televisions shows, is not transformative.”
Of the remaining five images, Judge Parker says, “Although the minimal alterations that Prince made in those instances moved the work in a different direction from Cariou’s classical portrature and landscape photos, we can not say with certainty at this point whether those artworks present a ‘new expression, meaning, or message.’” That judgement - when it comes - will prove crucial in giving judge’s any future guidance on determining what’s transformative and what is not. (via)