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The cover of Artforum's Summer 2011 issue, featuring John Smith's Untitled (2011)
The cover of Artforum's Summer 2011 issue, featuring John Smith's Untitled (2011)

CONTRETEMPS OVER AD-FREE ARTFORUM BOOTLEG

July 27, 2011

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Not everyone who reads Artforum ignores the articles and just looks at the ads. On Monday, July 25, 2011, the independent press Hol Art Books of Tucson, Ariz., blogged that it had produced -- in only two days with limited production costs -- a “bootleg” reproduction, sans ads, of all the articles and images from Artforum’s current issue, which includes an extended section on Abstract-Expressionism. The blogger was careful to specify that Acting Out:The AbEx Effect, as the bootleg is called, is not for sale -- but parties interested in obtaining a copy were invited to get in touch.

The scheme was quickly challenged by a blog commenter (taking the bureaucratically officious name of Copyright Enforcement Bureau), who complained that Acting Out unlawfully reproduced material belonging to Artforum. The HAB blogger answered the complaint, insisting that the bootleg was merely a “challenge” to Artforum to consider “new forms for traditionally formatted art writing” -- and was not intended to provoke “a fight about copyright law.”

Finally, Artforum rose to the baitand protested as well, claiming copyright infringement and demanding that the material be removed from the HAB website. HAB complied, and in a follow-up blog post noted that some 30 requests for copies had been received -- requests that will not be filled.

Notably, the showdown elicited a response from artist and Artforum contributor Amy Sillman, who expressed disappointment that the bootleg idea was terminated since she had “worked like a dog” on her essay for the issue and would have “happily given permission to reprint!”

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