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The battle over Wikipedia's use of images from a British art gallery's website has intensified.
The National Portrait Gallery is threatening legal action after 3,300 images from its website were uploaded to Wikipedia... by a Wikipedia volunteer David Coetzee.
The gallery also explained how David Coetzee was able to obtain the high resolution files from its site. They were made available to visitors using a "Zoomify" feature, which works by allowing several high resolution files to be seen all together.
It claims Mr Coetzee used special software to "de-scramble" the high-resolution tiles, allowing the whole portrait to be seen in high resolution.
The British Association of Picture Libraries and Agencies has backed the National Portrait Gallery's stance.
A right royal row developing it seems. Note that the BBC uses just such a photo of a painting to illustrate the story. As they don't credit the source, I wonder where they got it from ;-)
Full story from the BBC [news.bbc.co.uk]
The gallery is however claiming they own the copyright of the photographs *of* the paintings that the Wikipedian put on the encyclopedia.
While this is perhaps technically true (anytime you create a photo, even of another person's artwork, you do instantly own the copyright to it, at least in the US), in my opinion it falls under fair use and Wikipedia is justified to use the photos since they have no merit on their own other than duplicating a previously-created work.
Just another instance in which out-dated copyright law trumps common sense in my opinion.
there is a definite cost when creating a high resolution image. the gallery paid that cost and also the cost of preserving and long term care of those paintings. it is not cheap to preserve old paintings.
wikipedia also shouldn't try to use the charity defense. their 07/08 financial report is not pretty imho. they spend over $1 million on finance/admin, another $309k on just the office of the executive director and only $269k on actual program activities. that is $269k out of $3.5 million dollars. doesnt seem like a very efficient charity to me.
The case turns on the basis that in the UK the photographs are protected in their own right by copyright law. However, as the document points out, this is not the case in the USA, where a legal precedent was set - Bridgeman Art Library v. Corel Corp - that states specifically that copyright cannot be applied to a photograph of a painting.
The letter additionally states that the dissemination of these images via Wikipedia and under the terms of GNU licensing will mean that a copyright infringement is caused every time anyone downloads them into their browser, hard drive, etc, wherever they may be in the world!
That aside, the NPG falls under the aegis of UK/English Law, whilst the volunteer, and Wikipedia, are protected by US Laws, which don't consider this to be any sort of infringement (although the matter of the circumvention would surely remain).
To me wikipedia is nothing but bad news. Good to see it getting some opposition that has the means to fight it.
copyright only last 14 years
Even in the USA, the copyright has been extended by the "mickey mouse act" (better known as the Sonny Bono Act) to 70 years after the death of the author (if known) or 95 years after publication or 120 years after creation [whichever comes first] (for anonymous, pseudonym and made for hire works)
That aside, the NPG falls under the aegis of UK/English Law, whilst the volunteer, and Wikipedia, are protected by US Laws
The NPG is just trying to use physical possession of a copy to work around the expiry of copyrights (which they did not necessarily hold in the first place). Wikipedia is in the right both legally and morally.
Where is the creative step in photographing or scanning a painting? It is a purely technical process, and claiming your copyright on it is like claiming copyright on a book because you rebound it.
Where is the creative step in photographing or scanning a painting?
They did the work, which might have been a huge task, I don't see why someone else can just take it and publish it without their approval. If someone want the pictures of the paintings, they're free to go and photograph them.
That's like people who copy a news article about an event claiming no one has copyright over the event. That's not the point, someone had to compose the whole article, even though "reporting" something isn't "creative".
This is really basic copyright stuff here. The CDPA is pretty clear, and taking photos periodically of artistic works is a clever way to ensure that copyright remains with the gallery.
As for jurisdiction,thank goodness NPA use a UK IP/host. Well done.
Most galleries do not allow you to take photographs of paintings because:
a) they can get damaged by the light caused by camera flash
b) the galleries like to sell postcards of them in the shop
<back on track>
In this case I believe that Wikipedia is infringing the copyright of the photographs that the National Portrait Gallery owns.
If the NPG is unwilling to allow others to make such images, then they are unjustly trying to control access to public domain paintings. The law brings copyright works into the public domain after a certain period of time to the benefit of the public; it is the intention of the law that the public should thereafter have access to the works.
Hoarding public domain assets and refusing others the opportunity to make use of them is morally wrong, even if it is not technically legally wrong. The public has, by definition, a right to that which is in the public domain!
The Berne convention and subsequent treaties sch as the WIPO copyright treaty actually have provisions in them for mutual respect of copyright between the jurisdictions even if there are differences in how local laws act. Hence it's far more complicated than a simple jurisdiction issue.
Of course it's more complicated than a jurisdiction issue, although every specialist IP blog I've read suggests that it is a concern. Certainly, it's not seen as being black and white.
Beyond the side issue of jurisdiction there are claims of breach of contract, bypassing of protection measures and infringements of database rights.
a) they own the paintings
b) they can prove the images on wikipedia are definitively owned by a photographer hired by the gallery.
Though it might suck all around an art gallery is not a private establishment, anyone can walk in and snap pictures.
What incentive is there for other art galleries (or other enitities) granting greater public access via the internet if every Thomas, Richard or indeed Harrold can republish in whatever manner they choose.
If any institution or person claims that an image (or copy) belongs to them, it seems to me that Wikipedia should pull it ASAP, no questions asked.
I am now beginning to wonder if my pictures were used that I would have an uphill battle to contend with to get it removed from Wikipedia. It might make me feel a little more aggressive about whether or not to let them use an image of mine.
If they want to remain friendly for and to the people, they should relinquish anything uploaded without question if it is questioned – especially if it is not uploaded by the person who took the photo (and I could have sworn they ask you that anyway when you upload a photo)
Legal or no, Wikipedia is suppose to be a place where information is compiled voluntarily, not gained through an self-righteous editor using software to cut through blocks specifically designed to protect photo downloads. If they want to keep that spirit of volunteer community, they should have removed the photos.
It's also worth bearing in mind that a lot of art is bequeathed, and that means that the art gallery has not only a responsibilty to protect it's assets but also to uphold its position in the light of this generous request by a donator. Otherwise these donations might stop and that would be bad for the public who would no longer be able to enjoy looking at art for free.
I also agre with "hannamyluv" although I've always thought of Wikipedia as a bit of joke really, and G's insistence on using their results a sign of a low editorial standards, and a knee jerk reaction to a broken algo, that can't rank sites that have decent content over some really basic spammy techniques.