[Foundation-l] Blogs vs. Wikis

Andrew Gray shimgray at gmail.com
Mon Apr 16 09:00:57 UTC 2007

On 15/04/07, Yann Forget <yann at forget-me.net> wrote:
> Hello,
> geni a écrit :
>  > Eh still better than the UK system where public libraries will claim
> > copyright on direct scans of PD works.
> A claim is something, but unless it is validated in court, it is just a
> claim. Similarly the French National Library claims copyright on their
> scans, but AFAIK it was never validated in court. Is there any
> jurisprudence in UK about this?

There is no direct precedent; a related case from the 19th century
dealt with photographs of engravings, which were held to hold
copyright - but it's now 138 years old, and both copyright and
photographic technology have developed in remarkable ways since then.

There is also good reason for contending that a scan is a simple
mechanical process, and a leading authority on copyright law has
argued that "a person who makes a photograph merely by placing a
drawing or painting on the glass of a photocopying machine and
pressing the button gets no copyright at all..." ["The Modern Law of
Copyright and Design", 1995] - an example where a scanner would seem
directly comparable.

The fun comes in his second part to that sentence, though. "...but he
might get a copyright if he employed skill and labour in assembling
the thing to be photocopied, as where he made a montage". So if our
authority feels a simple scan of a document is non-copyrightable, how
would he feel about a scan made with careful skilled adjustment of the
equipment, preparation of the materials, and the presence of rulers
and colour bars and other calibrating apparatus? Very open question,
and one that could potentially give rise to a distinction based on
effort more than art... there is, after all, undeniably skill and
labour involved in an archivist carefully scanning fragile material as
part of the curatorial process.

- Andrew Gray
  andrew.gray at dunelm.org.uk

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