Robert Graham Merkel wrote:
From: "Jimmy (Jimbo) Wales"
Subject: [Wikipedia-l] [bhorrocks(a)npg.org.uk: National Portrait
Gallery images on Wikipedia website]
It would please me greatly to be able to respond that their claims are
preposterous. Shall we research this carefully?
I don't know about UK law, but the National Gallery of Victoria
in Australia (with the shared legal tradition I believe the copyright
laws are similar) seems to believe that they own the rights to any
photographs of the artworks they own, even if the artworks themselves
are in the public domain. You will note the copyright notice on
this Australian website:
This is despite the fact that McCubbin died in 1917.
I have been meaning to get around to making further enquiries into this
in the Australian context, but haven't got around to it. Given this
enquiry, it just got moved up my priority list.
I would be curious to know what policy these galleries apply with regard
to photography by individual visitors to the gallery.
I think too that there is a question of burden of proof involved. Even
if their principle legal premise is correct they need to prove that our
picture was taken from their website, rather than us needing to prove
that it was from somewhere else. Also if their premise is correct that
there is a copyright in these reproduction, an individual who has taken
his own photograph of a picture would not lose his own copyright on the
basis that he had violated a no-photography rule.
Another observation that I would make is that any copyrights to these
reproductions must be determined separately. Without that, how can we
know the copyright date of a specific photograph? Without the copyright
date, how can we know when the copyright expires? What is meant by
publishing? If the same photograph was used to produce a postcard in
1930 the copyright on that would certainly have expired. Whose courts
Naturally, taking a stand on this requires more research than these off
the cuff remarks. Still I think that it is inevitable that as the
putative copyright holders see their revenue streams threatened they
will take action to protect those streams. Sooner or later there will
be a legal confrontation; what we need to know is which actions are