A collaboration among five American art museums based on a successful project in the U.K. last year and being billed as the “largest outdoor art show ever conceived” will bring art to the people through billboards around the country. The public will be invited to vote on works that have been selected as representative and the 100 most popular works (not just paintings) will be featured. A great way to raise awareness of America’s artistic past and present as well as making people aware of the treasure trove of works in the public domain. Read more here at the Los Angeles Times. (Note not all the works in the project are in the public domain – artist Georgia O’Keefe is among the artists whose work will be considered, however, the image presented here is not owned by one of the participating museums nor is it in the public domain.
Buzzfeed, the popular Internet aggregator of funny lists accompanied by photographs/GIFs, (Full disclosure: I’m a regular reader) has found itself in recent copyright troubles both small time and big time – the small time problem (but funny) can be found here while the more serious and not so funny (if your Buzzfeed’s legal department) can be found here and here. While neither situation looks like it is going to seriously affect Buzzfeed’s bottom line both situations remind us that it is better to use original content, content that is in the public domain, create your own content, use fair use where appropriate or seek permission from the creator – lots of different options on the table.
Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals rules that the punk rock band Green Day did not violate artist’s copyright in painting by displaying painting in video. Read more here at the 1709 Blog.
The Getty Museum has announced a major initiative making 4,600 images of art in in its collection available to be freely downloaded. Now while many if not all of these works were technically in the public domain it was difficult to obtain high quality downloadable images without paying a fee. Read more at The Verge.
A recent case out of the 10th Circuit, Enterprise Management vs. Warwick, discusses whether a diagram is worthy of copyright protection – the discussion is interesting because it draws out the point about whether a particular idea can be presented in many different ways which would favor copyright protection or if the idea can be expressed in only one way which would trend away from protection. Read more at Seattle Copyright Watch.
We just saw where the Bank of Canada was using copyright to stifle criticism and censor critics is a post from last week. Now, a Utah Sheriff is claiming that mugshots are subject to copyright and owned by the government. At least the sheriff’s motives appear to be sound in that he is attempting to prevent Internet sites that post mugshots to humiliate those who have been incarcerated (without being found guilty of anything mind you) but still the use of copyright law in this manner is troubling. Read more here from Techdirt.
It is one thing to have a legitimate concern over copyright infringement and an entirely different matter to use copyright as a form of censorship. Such uses of copyright seem to be on the rise with the latest coming from the Bank of Canada – of course as parody is one of the clearest examples of fair use and in this case political speech not only doesn’t violate copyright law (Canadian or American) but is protected political speech. Simply put watch out for those who attempt to use copyright to suppress free speech and the sharing of ideas.