I may as well admit from the outset that this blog post has only the most tenuous connection with the law. I recently stumbled upon a brilliant website dedicated to Renaissance art… Ugly renaissance babies pretty much lives up to expectations. WARNING: It is a dangerously distracting blog.
Not a fan of the Renaissance? Need something a bit more modern and up to date? My Daguerreotype Boyfriend offers an alternative take on early photography and similar hours of amusement.
In an attempt at adding a legal perspective to an otherwise frivolous blog post, I hereby reopen the debate as to whether a photograph of a painting (or other art work) can ever constitute a separate copyright work. In other words, if one of the submissions to either website is made by someone other than the photographer – is that person (or the website) potentially infringing copyright? It is worth noting that most images on both websites do appear to have been taken by the submitter (and in most cases the copyright has expired).
Luckily, many of these issues have already been considered by Francis Davey in relation to the NPG’s case against a wikipedia administrator who was accused of downloading approximately 3,300 high resolution images from the NPG’s database. This case (presumably) settled - a quick website trawl does not show much happening after the initial C&D letter (but any updates from readers in the know would be appreciated). In essence whilst the position is fairly clear in the US (a photograph of a painting does not attract copyright protection – Bridgeman v Corel), it is less clear in the UK. Rather than rehash the entire article, I refer interested readers to Francis Davey’s excellent blog.
For those less interested in such copyright intracacies, I hope you enjoy one or both of these irreverent takes on old art.
Finally, my haphazard internet browsing has unearthed WIPO’s photographer orientated (& user friendly) summary of the “legal Pitfalls in Taking or Using Photographs of Copyright Material, Trademarks and People”. Enjoy.