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You can use my photos for free at http://freeartisticphotos.com - all of them are taken by me and made Public Domain

give it a go;)

Cheers, Husac


Unfortunately Wikimedia Commons has a more restrictive (partly UK based) position than the Wikimedia Foundation.

Virginia, I appreciate your clarifying the rationale for your thought experiments at the panel discussion. I do worry that many photographers would argue that the level of originality they add is comparable to Duchamp's mustache and beard, and therefore a high resolution reproduction of their at best thin copyright would still be an infringement. You are certainly correct that even this thin copyright disappears entirely if one makes a low resolution scan that fails to capture the skillful contributions of the photographers.

I continue to believe that what we need is a pointed prosecution under the copyright fraud provisions against a prominent New York museum or art photo agency. That might get the attention of the community and convince them to pay attention to Bridgeman and practice. All we need is a federal attorney to agree.

Peter, thank you for posting on this panel!

The fact is, we are in a life without Bridgeman, for most practical purposes, even in the Southern District of New York. So until the holding of Bridgeman is recognized in actual practice, and copyright is no longer asserted in photographic reproductions of two-dimensional works in the public domain (to hew to the facts of Bridgeman), I think it's valuable to try to understand the various arguments against the holding. Sticking to the legal argument here, it is that there is something copyrightable in the way a particular photographer reproduces the underlying work in question. We know that "originality" under the law doesn't have to be much -- so pushing to understand what exactly the copyright is that is being asserted here, to my way of thinking, helps clarify that it isn't enough. That's the point of the other thought experiment I offered -- if you strip off the mustache and beard added by Duchamp to his version of the Mona Lisa, what do you really have, in terms of something copyrightable? Do the photographers of art in the public domain have even that much? Jessica Litman has usefully discussed the "fiction" of copyright, which I think is relevant here (though I'm not asserting Prof. Litman necessarily would agree with my example).

The fundamental point here seems to me to be that if access to the public domain can be controlled by restricting access to reproductions of the public domain, we do have some serious policy implications, indeed.

So there actually were two aims driving my question about what would be infringed in a non-Bridgeman world, if the "original" and allegedly copyrightable elements of the reproduction in fact were not reproduced. First, to point out the very slim basis for any copyright claim at all. But second, to make it clear to those who can now benefit from scanning reproductions at less than ideal resolution, that they should not fear to do so. Judging from the number of art historians and librarians who wanted to talk about this after the panel, that was a point worth making.

I completely agree it doesn't go far enough.

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