[Foundation-l] At least 500 images will have to be deleted from the National Portrait Gallery

Mike Godwin mgodwin at wikimedia.org
Wed Jul 23 18:54:27 UTC 2008

Klaus Graf writes:

> For years there was no doubt that Bridgeman v. Corel was accepted on
> Commons. It is said that British courts would'nt accept Bridgeman v.
> Corel but there is no proof for this. It is true, in the contrary,
> that the NY US judge has diligently discussed UK law with the result
> that also according UK copyright law mere reproductions are NOT
> protected.
> Bridgeman vs. Corel is an essential point for Commons and for all
> Wikimedia projects. This is not an issue some Commons pseudo-experts
> could decide. Before 500+ pictures of PUBLIC DOMAIN PAINTINGS are to
> be deleted the board of the Foundation should decide if Moeller's
> quote above is still its position.

I think it's still the Foundation's position, Klaus. We've gotten the  
occasional note from the National Portrait Gallery in the UK,  
asserting copyrights in reproductions of very old paintings, but to my  
knowledge we've never actually faced anything like legal action or a  
DMCA takedown notice regarding such images.  I think the National  
Portrait Gallery may be afraid to put their claims to the test in  
actual litigation, since doing so would be a straightforward assault  
on the public domain, and could raise international enforcement issues  
besides.  While I respect the Commons community's engagement in the  
issue of keeping Commons clear from copyright problems, it should be  
stressed that it is unclear whether the Foundation currently has any  
legal problems as a result of the public-domain paintings in question  
appearing on Commons.

--Mike Godwin
General Counsel
Wikimedia Foundation

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