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New Developments In NPG/Wikipedia Lawsuit Threat

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the I-see-portraits-of-dead-people dept.

The Courts 345

Raul654 writes "Last week, it was reported that the UK's National Portrait Gallery had threatened a lawsuit against an American Wikipedian for uploading pictures from the NPG's website to Wikipedia. The uploaded pictures are clearly in the public domain in the United States. (In the US, copies of public domain works are also in the public domain. UK law on the matter is unclear.) Since then, there have been several developments: EFF staff attorney Fred von Lohmann has taken on the case pro-bono; Eric Moeller, Wikimedia Foundation Deputy Director, has responded to the NPG's allegations in a post on the WMF blog; and the British Association of Picture Libraries and Agencies has weighed in on the dispute in favor of the NPG."

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345 comments

forst pist (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28727963)

roflcopter!!!

shao khan (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28727965)

Let. Mortal Kombat. Begin.

Pictures versus digital photos... (4, Insightful)

MadCow42 (243108) | more than 4 years ago | (#28727991)

I fully agree that the paintings are in the public domain, but it does NOT mean that the digital photos are. If he created his own photos, he could post them. The only question is whether or not a straight copy of a work can be copyrighted on its own... which is why the museum is arguing that artistry went into creating them.

Having done museum copywork in the past, I can assure you that getting high-quality images of paintings is NOT simple - lighting is critical to capture the texture, color, and avoid reflections and shadows. It's not just point-and-click. I'd side with the museum here, sorry!

madCow.

Re:Pictures versus digital photos... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28728031)

Sounds like you want to get paid for adding flaws to a picture.

Re:Pictures versus digital photos... (2, Insightful)

u38cg (607297) | more than 4 years ago | (#28728039)

But this kind of test is stupid. If I grabbed one of these portraits off the wall and threw it in a photocopier, do I get copyright on whatever comes out? I should hope not. Likewise, while it may not be easy to photograph one of these works, you are certainly not adding anything to the actual content of the image; indeed, you are actively trying not to. Technical expertise went into creating them, yes. Artistry, no.

Re:Pictures versus digital photos... (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28728071)

That wouldn't work anyway. The photocopier is borked because someone melted a transparency in it.
And the glass is cracked, where someone tried to photocopy their ass at the Christmas party.
And it's out of toner.

Re:Pictures versus digital photos... (3, Insightful)

Hope Thelps (322083) | more than 4 years ago | (#28728091)

Likewise, while it may not be easy to photograph one of these works, you are certainly not adding anything to the actual content of the image; indeed, you are actively trying not to. Technical expertise went into creating them, yes. Artistry, no.

That's like claiming that you're not adding anything when photographing a person. Realistically, we know that in either situation the photographer is applying their creative skill and making choices and judgments about what aspects to capture. The photograph will NOT be exactly the same as the original - it's a representation. Capturing the texture and the qualities of the canvas, deciding what lighting to use (and let's face it that affects the colour, the perception of the texture, everything), the angle to use... there is every bit as much creativity in applying these choices to photogrsphing a painting as in photographing anything else. Pretending that it's eqivalent to chucking something on the photocopier and pressing a button is silly.

Yo may "try not to" make any artistic choices in photographing a painting just as you may "try not to" when photographing a person but realistically you have to. And in either case the photographers are exercising artistic skills.

Re:Pictures versus digital photos... (2, Informative)

mdwh2 (535323) | more than 4 years ago | (#28728301)

The originality in taking a photograph of a person (or any scene) are nothing to do with issues such as colour reproduction. You have a whole load of extra issues to do with how the person is posed, the angle, what's in the background. There's also a huge difference in talking about lighting and colour as photographers/artists typically use them, or pedantically pointing out that no reproduction is perfect and there will always be some lighting or false colour effects.

The issue isn't something as simple as "lighting", it's about showing artistic originality. Ultimately, any grey areas are up to the courts to decide. But US courts have already concluded that photographic reproductions of a public domain painting do not count - so tough, it's legal, and not up for debate.

If things were as you propose, then it would mean in practice, nothing would become public domain. Everything from Shakespeare's works to paintings would be locked up in perpetual copyright - unless you could get hold of the original source and make your own copy, which would often be rather hard.

Re:Pictures versus digital photos... (1)

Hope Thelps (322083) | more than 4 years ago | (#28728387)

But US courts have already concluded that photographic reproductions of a public domain painting do not count - so tough, it's legal, and not up for debate.

I think we'll have to agree to disagree on whether there's any artistry in photographing a painting, but the bit quoted above is just gratuitously offensive. The US courts don't have any say in what's 'up for debate' by me.

US/UK Law (1)

dontPanik (1296779) | more than 4 years ago | (#28728397)

But US courts have already concluded that photographic reproductions of a public domain painting do not count - so tough, it's legal, and not up for debate.

From TFA: http://www.bjp-online.com/public/showPage.html?page=865802 [bjp-online.com]

[Wikimedia Commons] regard all images of out of copyright material as public domain, and dispute there is any copyright in a copy of an original work,' [Simon Cliffe, NPG executive director] says. 'This is contrary to UK law. ... The 1988 CDPA recognises this.'

So according to this guy, US and UK law are in disagreement over this, making this case all the more interesting.

Re:Pictures versus digital photos... (2, Interesting)

vagabond_gr (762469) | more than 4 years ago | (#28728061)

Quoting from one of TFAs [wikipedia.org] (emphasis mine):

Bridgeman Art Library v. Corel Corp., 36 F. Supp. 2d 191 (S.D.N.Y. 1999), was a
decision by the United States District Court for the Southern District of New
York, which ruled that exact photographic copies of public domain images could
not be protected by copyright because the copies lack originality. Even if
accurate reproductions require a great deal of skill, experience and effort, the
key element for copyrightability under U.S. law is that copyrighted material
must show sufficient originality.

Re:Pictures versus digital photos... (2, Insightful)

Alphager (957739) | more than 4 years ago | (#28728175)

Even if accurate reproductions require a great deal of skill, experience and effort, the key element for copyrightability under U.S. law is that copyrighted material must show sufficient originality.

Which does not matter, as the museum is in the UK and threatening a lawsuit under UK law.

Re:Pictures versus digital photos... (5, Insightful)

blackraven14250 (902843) | more than 4 years ago | (#28728217)

Against an American in America posting to an American website.

Re:Pictures versus digital photos... (1)

Hope Thelps (322083) | more than 4 years ago | (#28728297)

Agreed that the gallery's attempts to pursue under UK law an American for uploading to an American website are unlikely to get anywhere but it's still correct to point out that emphasising that the photos are uncopyrightable under US law is irrelevant - the NPG acknowledge that they're not copyrighted under US law anyway.

McKinnon ring a bell? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28728329)

UK resident.

Working on a UK machine.

Re:Pictures versus digital photos... (3, Insightful)

Martin Spamer (244245) | more than 4 years ago | (#28728865)

However the US is a signatory of the Berne Convention [wikipedia.org].

The Berne Convention requires its signatories to recognize the copyright of works of authors from other signatory countries.

Recognising the copyright of a work created outside the the US is a different set of circumstances to refusing to grant a copyright to a digital photo created in the US.

A court might consider a work created and copyrighted outside of the US differently to a work denied copyright in the US under Bridgeman Art Library v. Corel Corp.

Re:Pictures versus digital photos... (0, Offtopic)

mdwh2 (535323) | more than 4 years ago | (#28728311)

Which does not matter, as the person they are suing, and the website hosting the images, are in the US, and most likely don't give a damn.

What next - China suing someone because they argued in favour of democracy, or Iran suing because someone didn't follow Islamic law? Yes, it can and does happen, but no one takes any notice except to say how stupid it is for them to enforce their laws on people in other countries.

Re:Pictures versus digital photos... (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 4 years ago | (#28728065)

Of course, the thing is that this is a legal gray area in the U.S.. Photographs are very much copyrighted, but if the museum had pulled the paintings off the wall and ran them through a big color copier, the result would not be copyrighted in the U.S.. The only argument is whether a photograph of a painting is a "straight-up copy" in the first place, as far as U.S. law is concerned, as you point out.

Also as you point out, it isn't easy to get a high-quality photo of a painting. OTOH, that doesn't necessarily mean that it meets the test as copyrightable. It isn't to make a mold of, say, Leonardo's David, either. But that doesn't mean that the result is copyrightable, either..

Re:Pictures versus digital photos... (2, Informative)

mdwh2 (535323) | more than 4 years ago | (#28728327)

Of course, the thing is that this is a legal gray area in the U.S.. Photographs are very much copyrighted, but if the museum had pulled the paintings off the wall and ran them through a big color copier, the result would not be copyrighted in the U.S.. The only argument is whether a photograph of a painting is a "straight-up copy" in the first place, as far as U.S. law is concerned, as you point out.

Surely Bridgeman Art Library v. Corel Corp. involved photographs, not a photocopier? How does it differ to this new case? I'm not sure there's any grey area here.

Re:Pictures versus digital photos... (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 4 years ago | (#28728543)

Wow. You're right. [wikipedia.org]

In fact, the Corel case seems to be identical to this one. No doubt about it. Kaplan ruled not once, but twice that a photograph that is intended to produce a "slavish copy" of a painting lacks originality for copyright purposes.

Re:Pictures versus digital photos... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28728083)

replying as anon to preserve moderation...

How did this get tagged insightful? The UK most certainly has fair use laws, they are just called fair dealings. This is also a question of public domain work, fair use is only applicable if the material is currently copyrighted.

Re:Pictures versus digital photos... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28728137)

wtf? sorry dude, slashdot misappropriated my moderation and comment. It was aimed at the Globalization post below. Your post is valid and that overrated mod you just got was incorrect.

Re:Pictures versus digital photos... (1)

whisper_jeff (680366) | more than 4 years ago | (#28728097)

I work as a graphic designer so I am fully aware of the hurdles you needed to overcome in copying the art. That said, there is no "artistry" in it. It is a mechanical process. You were not _creative_. Your work was, if anything, mechanical in nature. It should _NOT_ be covered by copyright. And, remember, I am a graphic designer (who has also worked as a writer and editor at various stages of my career) so copyrights are a big part of my livelihood. Mechanical reproduction, while important and valuable, is not creative. Sorry.

Re:Pictures versus digital photos... (0)

owlnation (858981) | more than 4 years ago | (#28728395)

Mechanical reproduction, while important and valuable, is not creative.

Yes, but you are NOT a photographer. So you do NOT know what you are talking about. As a trained professional photographer, I can tell you that copying pictures on a wall in situ (in invariably awful lighting), is far from easy, and requires a great deal of skill. It is very much a creative process.

Re:Pictures versus digital photos... (2, Insightful)

Improv (2467) | more than 4 years ago | (#28728463)

That's not what "creative" means. Difficult/requiring skill is different - they are orthoganal matters.

Re:Pictures versus digital photos... (2, Insightful)

whisper_jeff (680366) | more than 4 years ago | (#28728517)

I do know what I am talking about, thanks. More than you will ever know. And just because something requires skill does not make it creative. Being a mechanic, especially today with the high tech engines mechanics face every day, requires a tremendous amount of skill and knowledge but there's nothing creative in what a mechanic does. (Yes, someone like Chip Foose is creative but he is not a mechanic.) Sorry. A requirement of skill and a job being hard =/= a creative process.

Since you claim you know what you're talking about (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 4 years ago | (#28728629)

If that's the case then does that mean that if copying the NPG/MPAA/RIAA stuff is hard, requires a great deal of skill and is a creative process, that automatically makes it a new work protected by copyright law?

Or somehow that's only true if you steal from the public?

Note that in my opinion it's stealing from the public if the public effectively no longer has free access to works that should be in the public domain[1].
Whereas it's copying if the company still has free access to its own originals/copies.

[1] You have to pay a fee to view the public domain work, and you aren't allowed to take pictures, and you can't take pictures of the owner's pictures, or make copies of them.

Re:Pictures versus digital photos... (1)

Fittysix (191672) | more than 4 years ago | (#28728733)

Extremely difficult, but it is purely a matter of technical skill. The intent when photographing a painting (in this manner at least) is to capture the original as perfectly as possible, and to NOT add any artistic variation. It takes skill yes, but a display of skill is not by itself art. There was a Star Trek episode about this very thing when Data was painting, or playing music - while I don't recall the details of the episode(s) I do recall there was some implication that he had a perfect technical skill, but lacked artistic ability.
It takes a lot of mathematical skill to solve certain equations, but I wouldn't call the solution art even if it was the solution to a Millennium Prize problem.

Re:Pictures versus digital photos... (1)

gbutler69 (910166) | more than 4 years ago | (#28728799)

Photographers are full of shit! There is about zero artistry in photography except in extraordinarily unusual circumstances. Most of the Artistry is in choosing WHAT to shoot. I call Bull-Shit!

Re:Pictures versus digital photos... (1)

jonbryce (703250) | more than 4 years ago | (#28728113)

English law sides with you, and the gallery, American law sides with Wikipedia.

UK is the wrong jurisdiction. Try US. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28728319)

The Wikipedia server and Wikipedia editor are resident in the US.

The NPG's server might be in the UK, or it might be in the US, or any other country. Then again, the images might have been served up from a distributed content delivery network, a cache or other indeterminate location outside of the UK. UK law has a tenuous relationship to this case.

It's worth noting that the pages are served by easynet [easynet.com]. This company operates a global content delivery network, so a US resident probably never even comes in contact with the UK and its jurisdiction. The files probably came directly from a server in the US.

I think the UK NPG will get laughed out of a UK court. If any infringement happened (which it didn' under US law), it happened in the US. Mind you, the lawyers are salivating over this one, in the hope that they become famous by establishing some new case law. Too bad that a clear technical explanation will leave the judge with no alternative but to die laughing.

Re:UK is the wrong jurisdiction. Try US. (1)

conspirator57 (1123519) | more than 4 years ago | (#28728783)

what may happen is that a judgment is made against the guy in the UK and there is no ramification to him until he tries to go there the next time. If he does he'll probably be arrested, etc on whatever equivalent there is in the UK to a bench warrant for failing to pay the judgment against him. And that process will happen efficiently because of the wonderful sheep^h^h^h^h^h people accounting systems we all now employ at border checkpoints as part of our security theater.

Re:Pictures versus digital photos... (1)

mdwh2 (535323) | more than 4 years ago | (#28728117)

I fully agree that the paintings are in the public domain, but it does NOT mean that the digital photos are.

In the US, yes it does. Even the NPG acknowledges this. This is not up for debate.

Having done museum copywork in the past, I can assure you that getting high-quality images of paintings is NOT simple - lighting is critical to capture the texture, color, and avoid reflections and shadows. It's not just point-and-click. I'd side with the museum here, sorry!

You are confusing effort with originality. A derivative work of public domain material is only covered by copyright if it shows some original work from you, AIUI. How much effort you took is irrelevant. Even if I wrote out the work of Shakespeare by hand, that doesn't mean I can claim copyright over that copy (in the US, at least).

If you want to argue with what you think the law should be, then by all means - but that doesn't have any relevance to what Wikimedia's response should be.

Re:Pictures versus digital photos... (1)

whisper_jeff (680366) | more than 4 years ago | (#28728277)

Even if I wrote out the work of Shakespeare by hand, that doesn't mean I can claim copyright over that copy

To be fair, yes you could - over the actual images of the hand-written pages. The words would not be copyrightable but the images of the handwriting would. That would be your creative work but the words would still be covered under public domain.

Re:Pictures versus digital photos... (1)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 4 years ago | (#28728201)

If he created his own photos, he could post them.

From the sound of it the NPG paid someone (either on staff or professional) to take these pictures. Then an American Wikipedian scraped them off their site and uploaded them to Wikipedia.

Ok, so let me illustrate for you the two extremes.

Situation A: My boss told me to photograph every single painting but he didn't give me any resources to do it. My son just got a digicam from his Twixx Sugar Blast cereal and I figured I would take that to work and snap some 640x480 pictures of these things and put them on the site. I don't really care and it's just going to take a day of work--oh well, no solitaire for me today!

Situation B: Okay, we hired this professional photographer to come in and take photos of these things. It's costing us a ton of bank but this guy's got 20 different lenses and these huge digital SLR cameras that ... some of these are custom made. He's going to need us to shut down areas and pull all the curtains for a day in each room so that he can set up lighting and get the perfect reflection of the oil on these. He's also going to be taking shots of these things from several hundred angles each and then pour over them at night to select the best picture for digital online display. And each of these images is 3GB so we'll need to have some network area storage for him.

Now, legally both situations should be treated the same way, right? But if you had just dropped $50,000 of taxpayer money on situation B, you might consider what is in your possession to be a valid derivative piece of art based on how much effort and care went into these "reproductions" or "copies" or "facsimiles" or what ever word you might think best appropriate for them. The fact of the matter is that with the proper wording, you can make reproduction of something sound like the reproduction itself is a piece of art, time and care. Just as a symphony written 300 years ago requires artists to reproduce it today and that reproduction of it is copyrighted, these photos are probably also copyrighted. I'd also side with the museum.

What we need is a UK Wikipedian to go down to the NPG and snap some photos and put them on Wikimedia under a CC license so this can all be dropped. I know in DC the Smithsonians sometimes don't allow flash photography when it could damage the work but I think that's only on special items and items that have been lent to the museum from a private/personal collection. So respect them and avoid those pictures. Any art teachers out there in the UK that want to offer their kids extra credit for some point and shoot photography and correctly labeling/wikipedia-ing the photos?

Re:Pictures versus digital photos... (1)

langelgjm (860756) | more than 4 years ago | (#28728221)

Having done museum copywork in the past, I can assure you that getting high-quality images of paintings is NOT simple - lighting is critical to capture the texture, color, and avoid reflections and shadows. It's not just point-and-click. I'd side with the museum here, sorry!

The WP entry for the case linked in the summary states that "Even if accurate reproductions require a great deal of skill, experience and effort, the key element for copyrightability under U.S. law is that copyrighted material must show sufficient originality." We did not cover this case in my IP law class, so I won't vouch for the accuracy of the WP article; however, I will note that it's an interesting exception to general copyright rules.

The watershed case for copyrightability of photographs was Burrow-Giles [wikipedia.org], wherein photography was viewed as an art, rather than a mechanical process, thus possessing the requisite modicum of originality for copyright. Since then, pretty much all photography (or videography) has been deemed copyrightable. What was never clear to me, even after taking an IP course, was whether things like automated cameras or security videotapes would qualify for copyright protection. I asked my professor about it, and he hemmed and hawed for a bit, and suggested that courts might view the mere act of setting up the equipment as enough "originality."

Now I run across this case, which indicates that such effort doesn't bestow copyright when the subject is in the public domain (nor should it - "effort" is like "sweat of the brow", which has been discarded). But this makes me think that perhaps not all photography should automatically qualify for copyright anyway, or at least it shouldn't be assumed to.

Stealing hi-res versions (4, Interesting)

patch0 (1339585) | more than 4 years ago | (#28728223)

It kind of worries me that he hacked in and took the hi-res images. We run a gallery of biological images and it costs us a lot of money and effort to digitise our 80-100 year old collections in order to make them useful to the public and scientific community. We do want our images in the public domain and we do want them used, but we need to have the cash to keep doing this work as a small charity so clearly there needs to be some balance. If someone hacked in and took our hi-res images it might jeopardize our ability to add other images on our already shoe-string budget. If he gets away with that I'd be quite upset to be honest...

Re:Stealing hi-res versions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28728431)

...he hacked in...
If someone hacked in...

Since when is Right-Click -> Save As considered "hacking"? Geez, c'mon guy, it's not like he hacked into WOPR.

Re:Stealing hi-res versions (1)

patch0 (1339585) | more than 4 years ago | (#28728549)

TFA says he hacked in, try reading it.

Re:Stealing hi-res versions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28728703)

Way to take everything at face value, kiddo.

http://www.npg.org.uk/ [npg.org.uk]

There, it takes a whopping five seconds to do your own research and not look like an idiot.

Re:Stealing hi-res versions (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28728551)

The parent poster's UID is > 1,300,000, the probability of the post being a troll is quite high...

Re:Pictures versus digital photos... (1)

c (8461) | more than 4 years ago | (#28728303)

> Having done museum copywork in the past, I can assure you that getting
    > high-quality images of paintings is NOT simple - lighting is critical to
    > capture the texture, color, and avoid reflections and shadows. It's not
    > just point-and-click.

Is it a creative transformation or is it a technical process? Copyright is about protecting creative works, and while there's some argument that there could be some element of creativity involved, the question would be whether there's enough creative transformation to pass a threshold of a new work or whether it's really just more of an photographic algorithm. Apparently, the UK has a much, much lower threshold for creativity than the US.

c.

Re:Pictures versus digital photos... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28728377)

The amount of work or skill involved in making the copy is irrelevant. I am a professional photographer, and yes, making high quality images of paintings is difficult and requires significant skill. But that skill is not used to add creative elements to the image... it is used to make an exact copy and to PREVENT any changes showing up in the result. Nothing creative is added. This is no different from taking an old record that is in the public domain, and digitizing it and putting it on a CD.

Re:Pictures versus digital photos... (1)

Adelbert (873575) | more than 4 years ago | (#28728533)

Hypothetical question:

Supposing there are a series of photographs of portraits that are in the public domain, but the images all have the frames in shot.

I don't think the frame should be in shot, so I write a bash script to remove the frames in bulk. Not only has a great deal of technical sophistry gone into this (I'd be surprised if 2% of the general population were capable of doing that), but the resulting .jpegs are set up in a way that I have dictated, based on my personal artistic preferences.

Are these new images in the public domain?

My gut feeling says they should be, but I don't see the difference between your actions and mine.

Whilst I don't know enough copyright law to know if the NPG is in the right or not, as a UK taxpayer I'm firmly against this legal action. Our culture is enriched by these images; let them be free!

Re:Pictures versus digital photos... (2, Insightful)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 4 years ago | (#28728649)

Did you even read the summary? Under US law, copies of public domain works are in the public domain. PERIOD.

Having done museum copywork in the past, I can assure you that getting high-quality images of paintings is NOT simple - lighting is critical to capture the texture, color, and avoid reflections and shadows. It's not just point-and-click.

The ease or difficulty, and quality of the copy, is irrelevant. They're copies of public domain works and can not be copyrighted.

Re:Pictures versus digital photos... (1)

Danathar (267989) | more than 4 years ago | (#28728801)

Hmmm...are those the only photographs available? (the ones made by the museum?) Can somebody walk in and take photographs? (or is that prohibited?).

Surely somebody or some institution OTHER than them have taken photos of these paintings? If the U.S. Gov has (Smithsonian?) then the wikimedia could use those right?

Globalisation (4, Interesting)

paulhar (652995) | more than 4 years ago | (#28728005)

Welcome to globalisation. Laws in the US aren't the same as the ones in the UK. In the UK we don't have fair use laws.
I'm wondering why this is different to the music mess caused by allofmp3; everyone was so upset that the Russians system was different and against "our" laws.

One of a couple of things is going to happen as we continue the Digital Revolution. Either we're going to need a global legal system since all this internet stuff is global, or we're going to have to shut down the internet and make it the "countrynet" so that everything you do is contained in the same legal framework.

Or, head, sand, bury.

Re:Globalisation (2, Informative)

u38cg (607297) | more than 4 years ago | (#28728057)

Facts, they are relevant to your arguments. [copyrightservice.co.uk]

Re:Globalisation (2, Interesting)

paulhar (652995) | more than 4 years ago | (#28728101)

To reword: our fair use law is very restrictive and doesn't allow for commonly considered fair use cases, such as the right to transfer songs to your ipod from CD. The "fair use" laws we have in the UK are designed for the press and for educational use, not the common people.

Re:Globalisation (1)

bkpark (1253468) | more than 4 years ago | (#28728433)

To reword: our fair use law is very restrictive and doesn't allow for commonly considered fair use cases, such as the right to transfer songs to your ipod from CD. The "fair use" laws we have in the UK are designed for the press and for educational use, not the common people.

The situation in U.S. isn't any better. For one, you are assuming that the "right to transfer songs to your iPod from CD" is fair use under U.S. law. It may well be, but until a lawsuit is brought and litigated, we will never know for sure if it is (and in fact, in a lawsuit some time ago, in a sworn testimony, some music label executive claimed that copying music from CD to your computer is "stealing").

That's the main drawback of fair use in U.S. The law only gives four criteria [copyright.gov] by which fair use may be determined. But because of the lack of specificity, we only know that a particular use is non-infringing after a precedent-setting lawsuit has been litigated. Most people would rather avoid those costly lawsuits than establish fair use, so they err on the side of caution and in the end, our fair use rights are as weak as yours.

Re:Globalisation (1)

ray-auch (454705) | more than 4 years ago | (#28728579)

Facts are good, but they need reading. The page you linked to is a general commentary on copyright law, and specifically states:

      "The actual specifics of what is acceptable will be governed by national laws"

The page you want for uk law is: http://www.copyrightservice.co.uk/copyright/p01_uk_copyright_law [copyrightservice.co.uk]

It explicitly covers the uk law "fair dealing" provisions, which is NOT the same as "fair use". Stating that the UK does not have fair use (in comparison with the US) is technically correct - it isn't called fair use, it doesn't appear to have had the same aims, and it defintely doesn't provide the same rights / exemptions.

Re:Globalisation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28728291)

Of course you don't have fair use laws in the UK. You live in a police state [theregister.co.uk]. Considering the sheer number of cameras on every street corner surely the UK government has violated copyright at one time or another.

difficult... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28728019)

This is a difficult one, I think, because it's harder to conceive of one of the parties as "evil" in the way that you can when the RIAA is suing dead people and those who have never used a computer. I have sympathies for the NPG - not least because they use the high-quality scans as a form of revenue which enables them to keep a really fantastic gallery open and free to all. Whilst what Wikipedia have done is almost certainly legal in the US, they are distributing it in the UK (where we might say it is presumtively prohibited). Of course, all this could have been sorted if we just had a root and branch overview of copyright throughout the world, but the Berne convention will probably prevent that...

And don't forget that the NPG hasn't taken to this in an "evil" way, they did offer to provide lower resolution pictures and haven't been preditory

Re:difficult... (1)

mdwh2 (535323) | more than 4 years ago | (#28728361)

I'm not sure it's that simple. At least the RIAA are dealing with material produced by their artists, as opposed to trying to make a quick buck from paintings done by people who are long dead.

Whilst what Wikipedia have done is almost certainly legal in the US, they are distributing it in the UK (where we might say it is presumtively prohibited).

And? I'm sure all sorts of things on Wikipedia are illegal in various parts of the world, such as China, Iran, North Korea and so on.

Who would guess (2, Funny)

just_another_sean (919159) | more than 4 years ago | (#28728035)

the British Association of Picture Libraries and Agencies has weighed in on the dispute in favor of the NPG.

There's a shocker. These people are just as bad as the *AA here in the U.S. Their about us [bapla.org.uk] page just screams "we make money of every dirty copyright trick we can think of and pretend to do it for you, the artist, the photographer, the little guy". It's all such a sham.

Check out their site, I was going to quote some of it but you can't even right click the page without their stupid JavaScript alerting you that their site is their content, blah, blah. Hello, 1996 called they want their cheap tricks back. Obviously this stuff is easy to defeat but it's still ridiculous that they even do it at all.

I hope this suit goes all the way to the new Supreme Court [judiciary.gov.uk] England is setting up and that these idiots get a total smackdown. Hey, a guy can dream a little right?

Re:Who would guess (1)

mcnazar (1231382) | more than 4 years ago | (#28728281)

>..without their stupid JavaScript alerting you that their site is their content, blah, blah

FF + NoScript = WIN!

Re:Who would guess (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28728561)

With FF (without noscript) I click ok to the js popup and then the right click menu appears...

Re:Who would guess (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28728353)

the British Association of Picture Libraries and Agencies has weighed in on the dispute in favor of the NPG.

There's a shocker. These people are just as bad as the *AA here in the U.S. Their about us [bapla.org.uk] page just screams "we make money of every dirty copyright trick we can think of and pretend to do it for you, the artist, the photographer, the little guy". It's all such a sham.

Check out their site, I was going to quote some of it but you can't even right click the page without their stupid JavaScript alerting you that their site is their content, blah, blah. Hello, 1996 called they want their cheap tricks back. Obviously this stuff is easy to defeat but it's still ridiculous that they even do it at all.

I hope this suit goes all the way to the new Supreme Court [judiciary.gov.uk] England is setting up and that these idiots get a total smackdown. Hey, a guy can dream a little right?

http://pastebin.com/f51666d45 [pastebin.com]

This isn't a Robin Hood story (3, Informative)

waderoush (1271548) | more than 4 years ago | (#28728041)

Defenders of the Wikimedia Foundation say the images are in the public domain (even though they aren't under UK law) and applaud Coetzee as if he were some kind of Robin Hood. Unfortunately, it's a case of the poor stealing from the poor. If all museum images were simply appropriated by file-sharers under the rationale that they *should* be in the public domain, pretty soon there wouldn't be any museum willing to pay for the digitization of important works, and we'd all be worse off. See the rest of my argument here: http://www.xconomy.com/national/2009/07/17/art-isnt-free-the-tragedy-of-the-wikimedia-commons/ [xconomy.com]

Re:This isn't a Robin Hood story (2, Insightful)

abigsmurf (919188) | more than 4 years ago | (#28728125)

And damn those evil public galleries that in Wikipedia's words "restrict access" by putting them in galleries that have free entry and free guided tours!

Re:This isn't a Robin Hood story (5, Insightful)

Fittysix (191672) | more than 4 years ago | (#28728273)

That depends on the reader being at or near the geographical location of the painting. When reading an article about the Mona Lisa on Wikipedia, I expect to see a photo of the article in question for purpose of discussion, not "to see this painting, please visit the Louvre in France"
I'd simply go elsewhere to find a picture.

Re:This isn't a Robin Hood story (0, Troll)

Random_Goblin (781985) | more than 4 years ago | (#28728829)

When reading an article about the Mona Lisa on Wikipedia, I expect to see a photo of the article in question for purpose of discussion, not "to see this painting, please visit the Louvre in France"

yeah if only the NPG was prepared to give them some lower resolution images suitable for the web or something... the bastards

basically wikimedia has taken someone elses hard work because they think they can get away with it

and the end result of this sort of behaviour is that less works will be digitalised, because there will be no one to pay for it

if wikimedia needs this information so badly, it should put its hand in its pocket to support the people that made it available in the first place, through A LOT of hard work

Re:This isn't a Robin Hood story (1)

mdwh2 (535323) | more than 4 years ago | (#28728441)

Nice strawman. Just because I am willing to show you a work of Shakespeare if you come visit me doesn't mean I get to claim copyright over it.

And if they give them away for free, why are they worried? What happened to the "but but, they need the money to survive" special pleading?

Re:This isn't a Robin Hood story (2, Insightful)

owlnation (858981) | more than 4 years ago | (#28728461)

And damn those evil public galleries that in Wikipedia's words "restrict access" by putting them in galleries that have free entry and free guided tours!

Exactly. And that is the real crux of this. While copyright is most often a tool for greed. In this particular case it really isn't. The choice is: allow these pictures to be free copied and distributed ad high quality and not be able to raise revenue to allow FREE access to the gallery. Or, allow the status quo to continue and provide an excellent free service to all.

The fact that entry to public museums and galleries in the UK is mostly free is a really big deal. Few countries do this, and it is a great thing for everyone.

The greater good for society is to allow these images to be copyrighted. Whether wikipedia is really interested in the greater good over their own vanity is very much open to scrutiny and debate.

Re:This isn't a Robin Hood story (2, Insightful)

nyctopterus (717502) | more than 4 years ago | (#28728181)

The situation is problematic, I agree. However, I think museums need something of a shakeup on this issue. Natural history museums, in particular, need to make photographs of specimens much more easily available for research. Most of these museums have government funding streams, and should see the digital dissemination of their collections as part of their mission, not merely as revenue. Their collections are all to often jealously guarded, which is what making them public institutions is supposed to avoid.

Re:This isn't a Robin Hood story (3, Interesting)

Xest (935314) | more than 4 years ago | (#28728331)

Just to add some perspective to your comment though, because it doesn't tell the full story, the reason most museums don't do this is because whilst yes, they receive public funding, they also make a small fortune from gift shop sales from visitors or for charging for special exhibitions.

Their argument is that government funding alone does not provide them enough to run top end museums.

I don't know the first thing about their finances, I haven't look into it, but they do have reasonable arguments against doing what you say. Whether their arguments are valid, and whether the reason they need this extra cash is because they're not efficient enough with what they are given I do not know. Certainly in the UK though, most museums I've been too seem to be some of the most well run of all public institutions compared to the jokes that are places like local government and such.

I agree it'd be nice if you could see more on their websites, if more of the information they have was available free digitally, but the truth is we do not know if this is financially viable or not. If they lose visitors in doing it such that they ultimately lose income and can't afford to provide great exhibits in the first place then the idea you suggest is pointless. If however they can do it without detriment then as you say, they should.

Re:This isn't a Robin Hood story (1)

mdwh2 (535323) | more than 4 years ago | (#28728417)

Defenders of the NPG say the images are aren't in the public domain (even though they are under US law)

Fixed that for you.

If all museum images were simply appropriated by file-sharers under the rationale that they *should* be in the public domain, pretty soon there wouldn't be any museum willing to pay for the digitization of important works, and we'd all be worse off.

Wikimedia are more than willing to cooperate with museums - the NPG just doesn't want to. That isn't an argument for granting copyright to public domain images. Copyright is about originality, not effort. Museums have plenty of ways to make money - changing world-wide laws to grant copyright to images that have been in the public domain for hundreds of years is not one of them.

And whilst it's plausible to think that people downloading an mp3 do so instead of buying a CD, do you really think that "filesharers" with portraits are going to result in people no longer visiting museums?

Re:This isn't a Robin Hood story (4, Informative)

delt0r (999393) | more than 4 years ago | (#28728555)

Museums do not and should not need to turn a profit. Hell in the UK they are all free (at least last time i was there). There purpose is preservation of important cultural and historic items. They get money from tax payers to do this... Digitization is part of their job. Not some new way to create a new revenue stream.

Re:This isn't a Robin Hood story (1)

JustinOpinion (1246824) | more than 4 years ago | (#28728769)

But Wikimedia's position is equally valid. The images are public domain (in the US) and they are trying to distribute them as widely as possible.

So, unless you're suggesting the US change its law to accommodate to UK, your counterargument amounts to "Wikimedia should just be nice and back off so that the museums can keep this revenue stream, which supports their useful work." But this argument has many problems: (1) If it's just based on "being nice", even if Wikimedia backs off, someone else can just (legally) go ahead and do it instead (and it could be a non-profit or some US corporation...); (2) What makes museums special? Should we also "be nice" to companies and not distribute public domain works that are related to them, because then their profits would be reduced? (3) If the whole argument is based on "being nice" then instead of asking Wikimedia to be nice and back off, why not just argue that people should be nice and donate to the museums more? Why is one kind of "just be nice!" more valid than another?

On the other hand, perhaps you are suggesting that reproductions of public domain works should themselves be subject to copyright, as they apparently are in the UK. I disagree with this because it becomes yet another way to skew the copyright balance in favor of the copyright holders. Could Disney arbitrarily re-extend the copyright to their movies by making a copy of their copies? If so, in what sense do copyright terms mean anything at all anymore? At some point how can we even tell the difference between "which copy" this is, and how long the term is. Even with respect to physical objects, can the museum just take new photographs of the paintings in 70 years, and thus reset the copyright on those reproductions? Again if we have a JPEG of the 2008 digital photo and a JPEG of the 2108 digital photo, how do we sensibly know which one is still under copyright? Or are we just supposed to abandon that whole "public domain" thing and accept that art in the modern age is forever commercial and never cultural?

I understand the appeal to our "be nice" natures by saying that someone has to pay for digitization. We all benefit from such efforts. But in my opinion this should then mean an appeal to the public (by museums or Wikimedia or whoever) for the funds necessary to preserve the art. It should not mean restrictive laws. If you are really convinced that the public supports art preservation but won't bother spending money for it without a law... then argue for a law that sends tax dollars to art preservation (with results being in public domain). The total burden on society on that case will be lower, since at least corporations won't be able to extend copyrights forever.

Re:This isn't a Robin Hood story (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 4 years ago | (#28728841)

Hold up there! Most museums and libraries are non-profits that do this sort of stuff as a public service and WANT the general public to have as much access as possible to their material (that's what Wikipedia is talking about when they mention partnering with other museums and libraries). They make their money through donations, admissions, and selling physical goods in the museum gift shop.

The NPG is acting here more like a for-profit company. They're basically holding these original works hostage (without rewarding the ORIGINAL creators anything for their derivative works, I might add) and objecting when anyone else dares tread on their moneymakers.

Who are these cowboys? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28728047)

So according to the National Portrait Gallery, the WMF ignored their initial attempts to communicate with them. Now they're responding by website???

UK Law is not unclear (1, Informative)

abigsmurf (919188) | more than 4 years ago | (#28728075)

UK law is very clear, photographs, even if they're of a subject matter that is public domain, are subject to their own copyright as an original work.

Re:UK Law is not unclear (1)

Anita Coney (648748) | more than 4 years ago | (#28728233)

Thanks for clearing that up. Unfortunately, you forgot to cite to the law which supports your assertion. I'm sure you'll get right on that. Thanks again.

Re:UK Law is not unclear (1)

abigsmurf (919188) | more than 4 years ago | (#28728855)

Photos are granted copyright by default. There has to be an explicit reason for copyright of those photos to be taken away (such as not having permission to copyrighted/trademarked items in the photo) otherwise it expires 70 years after publication or creator's death. As there is no such exception under British law, the copyright is the same as with any other photo.

http://www.ipo.gov.uk/cdpact1988.pdf [ipo.gov.uk]

Re:UK Law is not unclear (1)

blackraven14250 (902843) | more than 4 years ago | (#28728261)

This is not UK law that matters. They can't charge someone in the UK for something they did in the US. That becomes an international law issue.

Re:UK Law is not unclear (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 4 years ago | (#28728567)

When you decide to sue someone for copyright infringement you must choose a country and sue them under the laws of that country. The copies were created in the USA and so USA law applies. "International law", such as it is, is irrelevant.

Re:UK Law is not unclear (1)

Hope Thelps (322083) | more than 4 years ago | (#28728575)

They can't charge someone in the UK for something they did in the US.

You certainly can charge someone in the UK for something they did in the US but that's not really relevant here since it's a civil, not criminal, matter. You can also sue someone in the UK for something they did in the US (which is relevant here) - whether you'll win is another matter and whether you'll ever be able to enforce judgment is another again - I doubt the NPG's case ever really will get off the ground.

That becomes an international law issue.

Uh... sort of I guess. Normally "international law" by itself would refer to public international law - which isn't really relevant here - but I guess you could say it's a matter of "private international law" i.e. Conflict of laws. Private international law of course is determined by the local domestic courts according to what the rules of their own country. The UK courts have their own rules on which cases they're willing to hear and which laws they'll apply to them. Those are the rules that matter in any case brought before the UK courts. The US courts likewise have their own rules. Those are the rules that matter in any case brought before the US courts.

Re:UK Law is not unclear (5, Insightful)

ray-auch (454705) | more than 4 years ago | (#28728697)

I seem to recall that people from the UK have been extradited to the US and charged, for things they did in the UK that the UK authorities decided were legal (or at least things that they should not be prosecuted for).

And a certain Russian programmer was arrested and jailed in the US for things he did in Russia that were legal there... remember that one ?

Why should the reverse not apply ?

Re:UK Law is not unclear (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28728267)

I am a professional photographer. Making good images of paintings is not easy.... yes, there is significant work involved for the level of quality images in this case. BUT, the degree of work involved is needed in order to achieve an exact duplication and to NOT insert any changes due to light falloff, focal plane shifts, reflective artifacts, etc. So while a good deal of work, talent, and skill is needed to do it right, there is nothing creative added to the result.

A photograph of something in the public domain, where the photographer adds some creative element, yes, will be copyrighted.... but there must be some creative element added. Doing work to make the copy an exact duplicate (i.e the elimination of any change -- creative or otherwise) is not copyrightable. This is no different than taking a music recording that is in the public domain, and copying it from the record to a CD, versus performing it live and recording the performance.

Re:UK Law is not unclear (1)

Xest (935314) | more than 4 years ago | (#28728457)

There seems to be conflicting information on what's going on.

It sounds like the guy didn't take any photos himself but simply copied photos taken by a professional photographer for the NPG off of the NPG site.

Judging by the original solicitors letter etc. he has simply copied all the images from the NPG site and posted them to Wikipedia.

Re:UK Law is not unclear (0)

tgd (2822) | more than 4 years ago | (#28728655)

Correct, which violates both US, UK and international copyright law.

Re:UK Law is not unclear (0)

tgd (2822) | more than 4 years ago | (#28728639)

US law is actually the same thing. The photograph is still copyrighted, even if the thing it is of isn't.

Example: Say there is a text from a book written in the 1800's that is out of copyright in the US. I want to publish a copy of it, say, for a Kindle or even a discount-book print copy.

I have to find a printing of the source material that is out of copyright already. I need to have a physical book to get the text from that is over 75 years old (or whatever the appropriate copyright term is for that physical book).

I *can't* take a reprinting from 20 years ago and base it on that because *that* book IS copyrighted, even if the source material isn't.

Its the same with photos, even in the US. A photo has its own copyright. I can copy a *photo* that is out of copyright freely, but can't copy a photo that is under copyright of something that isn't.

NPG is in the right, here... in the US and the UK. (And rightfully so, IMO -- there's a lot of work that goes into making those digital images... if you want one out of copyright, do it youself and release your copy into the public domain.)

It's a photo of a painting! (1, Offtopic)

Rik Sweeney (471717) | more than 4 years ago | (#28728127)

Even though I can see where the problem is since UK law is unclear in this matter, it is still a photo of a painting and will never compare to the real thing.

I've seen loads of photos of the Mona Lisa, but does that mean if I was in the Louvre* would I not go and see it? Of course I would, because I'd want to see the genuine article.

*It's in the Louvre isn't it?

Re:It's a photo of a painting! (1)

Hope Thelps (322083) | more than 4 years ago | (#28728167)

It's in the Louvre isn't it?

Yes, and if you want to see it you'll have to pay the Louvre. The NPG, however, doesn't charge admittance to see its paintings, but does sell photographs of them. That doesn't mean they're right in law of course, (as you say, the position is unclear) but it does perhaps help to explain the NPG's concerns.

Re:It's a photo of a painting! (1)

Hope Thelps (322083) | more than 4 years ago | (#28728711)

I think you may have found my phrasing uncleear (if not then I've misinterpreted, sorry) - if you want to go into the Louvre and view the actual painting "the Mona Lisa" then you'll have to pay an entrance fee. If you want to go into the National Portrait Gallery and see the actual originals of their paintings then they don't charge a fee. However, they do sell photographs of them. This naturally affects their perspective on people who want to copy their photos for free too.

The BAPLA response (2, Insightful)

mdwh2 (535323) | more than 4 years ago | (#28728197)

First off, I can't even copy some quotes from the article at http://www.bjp-online.com/public/showPage.html?page=865802 [bjp-online.com], because they've done that stupid hijacking of my browser (I know, I'm using IE - I'm at work), and they claim "copyright" over it (despite the fact that their article quotes over people...) Nevermind, View Source to the rescue.

Simon Cliffe of BAPLA says "We understand that other people who have had similar experiences with Wikipedia and Wikimedia Commons have been told that they regard all images of out of copyright material as public domain"

Imagine that - thinking that out of copyright material is public domain!

"and dispute there is any copyright in a copy of an original work"

Not true at all - the point is that making a copy of public domain material doesn't constitute original work. They are perhaps confusing effort with originality.

"If owners of out of copyright material are not going to have the derivative works they have created protected, which will result in anyone being able to use them for free"

Just think, people might be able to use out of copyright material for free! When it's fully allowed by US law!

"but to assert the protection the law provides for their commercial interest"

US law provides them with no such protection. So they'll have to think up another way to profit from other people's work from centuries ago (not that there's any evidence that Wikipedia showing these images will harm their ability to profit - I don't think anyone goes "I'm not going to bother going to a gallery, when I could just sit at home on Wikipedia").

Music, Movies, Books,.. Museums next (2, Interesting)

martijnd (148684) | more than 4 years ago | (#28728209)

Musuems have collected and preserved much of the worlds cultural heritage. But at the same time they severely limit the publics enjoyment of the art and artifacts they seek to preserve.

I enjoy visiting a museum on occasion, but entry prices are usually extremely high and in the time that I have available I can usually only browse the highlights (from a respectul distance that hurts my eyes and blurs any details). Quick browses of paintings that their authors have spend weeks, or months on. You can ofen buy (expensive) books with again the same highlights of the collection, but not on a 1:1 scale.

High res scans would make all of this available to a much wider audience; worldwide, 24-7. Let them store that fragile 400+ year old painting in a secure bunker. Its the painting I am interested in, not the canvas.

Of course this would also make the museum obsolete; and kill off some major tourist attractions -- so expect some resistance from the old guard.

Re:Music, Movies, Books,.. Museums next (1)

Bashae (1250564) | more than 4 years ago | (#28728383)

Looking at an original painting is completely different from looking at a print or digital copy on a screen...

As for the entrance prices, they are often necessary to pay for the maintenance and restoration of existing and new exhibits.

That said, not being british or american, I completely side with US law on this one. A photo of a painting is a copy, no matter how you look at it, and shouldn't be subject to copyright.

Re:Music, Movies, Books,.. Museums next (4, Informative)

notseamus (1295248) | more than 4 years ago | (#28728429)

http://www.spanisharts.com/prado/prado.htm [spanisharts.com]

http://www.google.com/intl/en/landing/prado/ [google.com]

El Prado, Spain's biggest museum offers high resolution reproductions of its collection through google earth, and probably elsewhere too. They're such high quality you can get down to brush strokes.

Although IMO, there's something about seeing the painting/art work in person that can't be replaced by viewing it on a monitor. Something is lost if you see it on screen, especially if the space that you visit it in is repurposed or designed for the piece in question. This especially applies to sculpture.

NPG = Free Entry (4, Interesting)

RotateLeftByte (797477) | more than 4 years ago | (#28728435)

The National Portrait Gallery in London (Where the original pictures reside) DOES NOT CHARGE for entrance. I have spent many a wet lunch hour wandering around the Gallery enjoying the artwork.

I sells high quality prints of the Artwork. This is a way of raising funds for the upkeep and towards the purchase of new work.
As an Amateur photographer who has had their work pirated by someone from the USA and realises the futility of trying to stop them from claiming it as their own, I'm with the NPG on this one. Btw, I would have given the pirate a high quality copy of the picture if they had asked for it and agreed that the copyright was mine. Instead, he stole it.

Re:NPG = Free Entry (1)

catfashionshow (1486861) | more than 4 years ago | (#28728815)

The Museum has free entry?! That's excellent. Everyone in the entire world can just buy plane tickets to London and experience these masterpieces for themselves, free of charge! I hate to sound smarmy, but it's infuriating when they assert a copyright claim to these photographs, and then disallow any photography or video recording of their gallery (photography policy [npg.org.uk]). If I wanted to get these images on Wikipedia, even though they're public domain works, it would be impossible, unless I smuggled in a camera and surreptitiously took photographs of each work of art.

If NPG's mission statement is more than lip service (link [npg.org.uk]), and they actually do want to "promote through the medium of portraits the appreciation and understanding of the men and women who have made and are making British history and culture," this is a very curious way of demonstrating it. Flaunting your country's backwards copyright laws and keeping these portraits out of the hands of the millions who use Wikimedia sites to learn art history seems dirty and unreasonable.

Re:Music, Movies, Books,.. Museums next (1)

delt0r (999393) | more than 4 years ago | (#28728631)

In the UK they are free. In France the Louvre was something like 5EU and others were at similar prices. Here in Vienna many places are free while most are cheaper than a movie ticket. And no digital copy's will not affect museum patronage any more that photos of mountains stop people climbing them.

The Mona Lisa [blogspot.com] is available online, yet guess what the busiest room in the Louvre is?

Ok, im gonna send 5 bucks to eff then. (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 4 years ago | (#28728227)

and i will type in paypal description 'for NPG case'. hehee. dont make fun of me, i do that all the time. my donations may be small, but at least it can pay some snacks for one of the staff. everything counts.

Soon, in the UK... (1)

LuvlyOvipositor (1578009) | more than 4 years ago | (#28728389)

(Young entrepreneur painstakingly copies letter-by-letter the Windows 7 source code, gets sued and heads to court)

The defense?

But I worked hard on it and spent a lot of time and money copying the code.

Effort on its own means jackshit in this world (except maybe public schools), you need to actually produce something of its own merit.

Re:Soon, in the UK... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28728557)

Windows 7 source code is not public domain. If the paintings were still in copyright, the photos would clearly be copies subject to copyright as long as the copyright on the original painting was still in force.

Difficult Case (2, Interesting)

squoozer (730327) | more than 4 years ago | (#28728507)

I'm seriously torn here about whether I support the museum or the little guy. I don't think anyone would argue that the original pictures are in the public domain but that isn't what is being shown on Wikipedia, what is getting shown there is a photograph of a public domain work. I think it's fair to argue that a non-trivial amount of work went into taking these photographs and therefore they fall under copyright legislation. If you think it was a trivial amount of work ask yourself how long it took a professional photographer to capture all these shots - I'll bet it ran to at least several weeks of work and probably more (at 20 paintings a day it would be 30 weeks work and I doubt they could do twenty a day).

On the other hand this museum is paid for by the people and presumably the payment to have the photographs taken was also public money. I would say, therefore, that there is a strong argument that these photographs should be in the public domain (at least for residents of the UK). Strengthening the freedom argument, to my mind, is the fact that the museum doesn't allow people to take their own photographs in effect causing a monopoly situation on public works.

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