[APG Public List] RE: Copyright question

Pat Asher pjroots at att.net
Thu Nov 26 07:14:05 MST 2009

At 07:17 PM 11/25/2009, Ray Beere Johnson II wrote:
>your opinion is no more useful than my own. (At 
>least, I have been told, by more than one 
>lawyer, even if you discover a "relevant" case, 
>if you are not a lawyer, your ability to 
>correctly interpret what it means is limited at 
>best. Can you cite a lawyer who claims 
>otherwise?) If you are, please tell us, so that 
>we can consider the matter settled.


I am not a lawyer, but as any credible researcher 
should, I cite my sources so others can verify.

The Rights and Reproduction Information Network 
(RARIN) - a Standing Professional Committee of 
the American Association of Museums, when discussing Bridgeman v. Corel, said:
"Just about every museum attorney looking at the 
case objectively thinks it came out the correct 
way according to U.S. copyright law ­ that's why 
no museum had ever brought such a suit."

This appears to contradict your assertion that 
"museums have successfully copyrighted 
_reproductions_ of works which they own, even those created centuries ago."
While museums have registered copyrights of such 
works with the U.S. Copyright Office, and that is 
prima facie evidence of copyright, Judge Kaplan 
pointed out that such evidence is subject to rebuttal.

The paragraph goes on to state:
"The U.S. Copyright Office (lawyers) informally 
agrees [with the decision]. Thus, no one saw any 
real chance for reversal on appeal."

In his decision, Judge Kaplan, a lawyer, quoted 
from an article by a former general counsel at 
the Museum of Modern Art, New York:
"It is therefore not entirely surprising that an 
attorney for the Museum of Modern Art, an entity 
with interests comparable to plaintiff's 
[Bridgeman] and its clients, not long ago 
presented a paper acknowledging that a photograph 
of a two-dimensional public domain work of art 
'might not have enough originality to be eligible for its own copyright.'"

Thus, it appears to me there is a fairly wide 
consensus among lawyers that true copies of 
two-dimensional objects can rarely, if ever, be copyrighted.


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