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.
For those of you who need last minute Valentine’s Day cards you’re in luck. Two sites, the New York Public Library and the West Virginia University History Center have vintage Valentine’s Day card collections. The WVU site actually allows you to send a card to a recipient. These cards/images are in the public domain since they were created before 1923 and are free to use. Materials created after 1923 may be in the public domain if they meet certain criteria such as having the appropriate copyright notice or not having their copyright status renewed – requirements under copyright law in the past. Here is a useful chart by Peter Hirtle from Cornell University that can help you determine whether a particular item is within the public domain. Remember that other materials such as most materials created by the federal government are in the public domain as well even if created recently and are free to use.
One of the most famous American and iconic works of art with a love theme – Robert Indiana’s – Love (1966) – was denied copyright protection as copyright protection is generally not afforded to short phrases or titles – even if it was executed in a distinctive font and design.
And finally a list of reasons from the Stanford Copyright and Fair Use Center on why you should love fair use.
The White House recenctly begain putting “use restrictions” on photographs of the President and other Executive Branch members on what are clearly goverment produced documents that should be in the Public Domain – when asked what was going on government spokesperson indicated that the language did not bar the photographs from entering the public domain and there were no restirctions despite the ambiguous language now being place on the photographs – Read more here from Public Knowledge.
A piece from the Atlantic Monthly discusses why you are more likely to find books available from the 1880’s than the 1980′s due to copyright restrictions – essentially creating a hole in our collective cultural memory. Read more here.
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 class action suit may be filed against Warner Music who is still collecting royalties on a song that would by all rights should be in the public domain as it was composed in the late 19th Century. A possible claim of copyfraud may exist where a defendant is sued for making false or fraudulent claims as to the copyright status of a particular work. Read more from The Economist and NPR.
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.