The Romans and whoever in 1709 did not have photography nor did they have
Internet. The practice of considering digital re-use is definitely a recent
invention. Our current best practices were not in place until recently. The
notion that this can be expected of our recent past is interesting to say
the least it is not realistic.
The notion that a commissioned work means a transfer of copyright is not
necessarily right. This has been considered in court in several countries
and this is not necessarily how it can be safely understood. There are
collections that have been given to museums and archives with the express
understanding that the works would be preserved. Current best practice has
it that part of such preservation is the digitisation and the publication on
When we cooperate with museums and archives in this, we will find that it is
extremely unlikely to get problems with their material. There are all kinds
of measures that can be taken to lessen the impact of an unlikely copyright
holder to object. One of them is the release only in a low resolution.
In some of the responses in this thread I find that people take a position
where a museum or archive is the "opposition". This may be true for some
museums or archives, but in this context we are talking about organisations
that want to partner with us. They want to partner with us because we
provide a platform that makes this material relevant again.
2009/3/30 geni <geniice(a)gmail.com>
2009/3/30 Gerard Meijssen
When you talk about clearing properly you are applying modern notions to
historic situations. The notion of copyright and clearing copyrights is
1709 is modern?
Licensing is also quite modern.
I'm pretty sure the romans had the concept. There are certain types of
business transactions that are rather hard to do without them (for
example you might give someone license to mine part of your land or
move something across it) and government granted monopolies frequently
It is easy to expect the
clearing of copyright to be done properly it is however an unreasonalbe
Not really. Sorting images into "almost certainly safe" and
"everything else" is fairly easy.
There have been Wikimedians who explicitly stated
that material that
predated the oldest free licenses were unfree because they did not state
their preferred license.
The analogy is true in that many people made
pictures and they were bought and sold and re-use of the material was not
considered, let alone re-use in our current digital scenarios.
Fortunately such situations are trivial to deal with. Since IP rights
are separate from the physical object unless the image was
commissioned the copyright states with the initial author.
Historic situations are ambiguous from our
perspective of what makes a
"proper clearance". Often the photographers is likely to be dead. It is
impossible to ask him, it is almost impossible to learn who the current
right holder may be.
None of that is of any significance. Without a positive release
statement no release exists therefor copyright remains locked down and
in possession of the heirs
It is exactly to prevent the material to be lost
forever that this material ended up in archives and museums. It is
to prevent this material to be lost and remain
lost that museums and
archives want to share this material with us.
Forever? Outside of Mexico anything over 170 years old can be assumed
to be in the public domain.
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