[Foundation-l] precisions about the recent WMF "fair use" decision

Robert Scott Horning robert_horning at netzero.net
Fri Feb 9 00:23:10 UTC 2007

David Monniaux wrote:

>Fine with me, but the same is true of museums or heirs of artists who chose not
>to allow free reproductions of their works of art.
>There cannot be two rules, two measures. One of the negative consequences,
>for an artist, the heirs thereof, or museums or libraries or whatever owning
>rights to the works, of not allowing free photographs, is to reduce exposure
>of these works to the world, and thus deprive themselves of a kind of
>advertisement on a site in the first pages of Google. They'll have to assume that.
>Thus, again: Why that exemption for so-called "modern art"?
I don't understand this one either.  To me, reproductions of 2D art, 
especially when it is the entire artwork that is reproduced even in 
reduced resolution, essentially reproduced the entire artwork.  The only 
legitimate "fair-use" example I have seen for this that has been 
accepted in U.S. common law is for a thumbnail gallery, such as is done 
on google images.  And even then it is to provide a link to content that 
appears elsewhere that is legal to use.  Usage of this kind of content 
in a Wikipedia article just doesn't seem to fit the same sort of 
criteria, and requires multiple clicks to get to the "original" image 
and information about the actual copyright owner of the photo.

And trying to decide what a notable or significant artwork might be 
seems to smack with the same problems that plagues Wikipedia in terms of 
notability of people.  The one argument I've seen made regarding notable 
people being listed on Wikipedia is that as Wikipedia grows, people who 
would not have been considered notable when Wikipedia only had 100,000 
articles can be considered marginally notable with 1.5 million articles. 
 Does the same logic apply here for notable works of art?  That 
eventually there will be no line drawn as to notability?  And notable in 
what community or setting?

To me, this seems to be a rationalization of copyright violation rather 
than a serious attempt to try and find a legitimate fair use application.

Robert Scott Horning

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