12 February 2009

15.0 Museum Related Copyright Questions

Do you have a question related to your museum or archive? A question about a sculpture or painting, rights and reproductions, exhibition marketing, in-house and visitor education? Ask your questions by commenting below.

Lesley


15.1: Do you need permission to include images in a print museum catalogue that will be sold in a bookstore?

Answer: Yes, you should obtain permission whether or not the catalogue is being sold. The inclusion of the image is a reproduction of that work. In some circumstances, you may be able to imply permission from the circumstances but that would not be in every case. (2009-3)

19 comments:

Birdwatcher said...

I own some important paintings of my late father-in-law. In 1996 the
copyright on his work expired 50 years after his death. His only
child, my husband, died in 2000 and had not applied for an extension of the copyright. Is it possible for me to apply for an extension & apply for a copyright on the paintings I own?

JoJo said...

My organisation (based in Australia), is interested in posting an article online. However, the article contains some images of design objects (e.g. an Apple computer, a modernist chair etc.). Not all of the brands and designers can be identified. Assuming that we have permission from the photographer, are there other issues that need to be in relation to the design objects?

images said...

Thanks for responding to my question about museum exhibition catalogues. I agree that permission is generally needed for reproduction. What I am curious about is whether the end product - the exhibition catalogue - is considered commercial or not, when it is produced by a non-profit organization.

Copyrightlaws.com said...

Hi Jojo, in some countries there is a provision in the copyright law that allows the incidental inclusion of a work in another work. For example, if you are taking a photograph of someone and there is a painting in the background, then you can include that painting in your photograph. Check to see if there is such an exception in the Australian copyright law.
Lesley

Copyrightlaws.com said...

Hi Jojo, in some countries there is a provision in the copyright law that allows the incidental inclusion of a work in another work. For example, if you are taking a photograph of someone and there is a painting in the background, then you can include that painting in your photograph. Check to see if there is such an exception in the Australian copyright law.
Lesley

Copyrightlaws.com said...

Dear Images -- a nonprofit organization can create a "forprofit" work such as a catalogue. The nature of the organization is generally not relevant to whether the copyright use of the work is forprofit or not. If you are trying to apply an exception in the law or something in a license agreement, you would have to check the wording of that provision to determine how commercial or forprofit is defined as this would depend on your circumstances.
Lesley

Copyrightlaws.com said...

Dear Birdwatcher, to quote from the US Copyright Office:
Under the 1909 copyright law, works copyrighted in the United States before January 1, 1978, were subject to a renewal system in which the term of copyright was divided into two consecutive terms. Renewal registration, within strict time limits, was required as a condition of securing the second term and extending the copyright to its maximum length.

On January 1, 1978, the current copyright law (title 17 of the United States Code) came into effect in the United States. This law retained the renewal system for works that were copyrighted before 1978 and were still in their first terms on January 1, 1978. For these works the statute provides for a first term of copyright protection lasting for 28 years, with the possibility for a second term of 47 years. The 1992 amending legislation automatically secures this second term for works copyrighted between January 1, 1964, and December 31, 1977.
Further info at: http://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ15.html#filing

Erin said...

Hello,

Our organization was given a small collections of photographs that were taken of various artists with their works. If we have permission from the photographer (also the donor) to publish these photos, do we also need permission from the artists (or their estates)that are in the photos? For the most part, the artwork in the photos now belongs to our organization.

Thanks! This is a great blog feature!

Copyrightlaws.com said...

Hi Erin, there are two legal issues you need to be concerned about in photographs of people. One is who owns the photographs -- and whether permissions are needed to use the photos in certain manners. And two, what about the rights of the people in the photographs? In general, you should have a release from these people to protect against any claim against privacy and personality rights of the people in the photographs.

heycarey said...

Hello! I work for a museum and we are going to include the sheet music for Take the 'A' Train by Billy Strayhorn in an exhibit. I know that we can display the sheet music since we own it but I would like to include a recording of the music for visitors to hear. Do I need permission to play a recording of the song from the copyright holder?
Thanks!

Copyrightlaws.com said...

Hi HeyCarey, just because you physically own the sheet music does not mean you own the copyright in it. If you reproduce the sheet music in any manner, you need permission to do so. To publicly perform a song in your museum, assuming you are in the US, contact either ASCAP or BMI for permission. If in Canada, contact SOCAN.

Liv said...

Hi,
Our museum regularly publishes brochures, guides, and other ancillary materials related to current exhibitions and permanent collection in our galleries. Does work that is shown in promotional materials have to be licensed, since it could be considered fair use?

Greg said...

Hello Lesley,

I am working with a small college that owns 40 - 50 original Japanese Woodblock Prints. The artist died in 1997. The prints range from 1938 - 1981. We are putting together an exhibition catalogue to coincide with an exhibit of the prints we own. What rights do we need to obtain to reproduce photographs (we will photograph them ourselves) of the prints in our collection. The catalogue will have a print run of ~1500, but is intended to be sold at the exhibit and in local bookstores.

Any advice on this would be a great help! Thanks!!

Copyrightlaws.com said...

Hi Greg, generally you need permission to reproduce (including photographing) images in your collection. This is unless you also own the copyright in the images (and not just the physical images) or unless you have a license to photograph the images or unless the images are in the public domain.

Copyrightlaws.com said...

Hi Liv, generally any reproduction requires permission, even for a gallery catalogue. Best to get this permission in writing. You may examine the principles of fair use and determine whether your particular use would be considered fair use, however this would only be a defense to a claim of copyright infringement should one of the artists claim infringement.

notmyjob said...

We have several 19th century stoneware pieces on loan to our museum. We would like to photgraph the pieces. Do we need permission from the owner to photograph the objects? Does the owner of the stoneware own the copyright to any of the images we take of the objects he owns ?

Copyrightlaws.com said...

Hi Notmyjob -- sounds like the works are in the public domain and you are asking if the owner of the physical artifacts has to provide permission to photograph the items on loan...no in copyright law, but check your loan agreement and see what it says re photographing the artifacts and who may own the photographs if they are permitted.

Q said...

Regarding "15.0 Museum Related Copyright Questions", may a museum display an item when the museum does not hold the copyright, and/or if the item itself does not have a license from the copyright holder? For example: May a museum display a picture or sculpture of a cartoon character? May a museum display an enlargement of a daily comic strip? May a museum display an unlicensed drawing of a cartoon character? May a museum commission and display an unlicensed drawing of a cartoon character? Does it make a difference whether the museum "collects an entrance fee" -or- "asks for a donation at the door"?

Copyrightlaws.com said...

Hi Q, some countries do have a special right relating to your fact situations. For instance, in Canada, there is a right of exhibition "to present at a public exhibition, for a purpose other than sale or hire, an artistic work created after coming into force of this paragraph, other than a map, chart or plan or cinematographic production that is protected as a photograph"...