Copyright (c) 1998 Hastings College of the Law
Hastings Communications and Entertainment Law Journal (Comm/Ent)
ARTICLE: Keeping the World Safe from Naked-Chicks-in-Art Refrigerator Magnets: The Plot to Control Art Images in the Public Domain through Copyrights in Photographic and Digital Reproductions
21 Hastings Comm. & Ent. L.J. 55
by Kathleen Connolly Butler*
What the modern means of reproduction have done is to destroy the authority of art and to remove it - or, rather, to remove its images which they reproduce - from any preserve. For the first time ever, images of art have become ephemeral, ubiquitous, insubstantial, available, valueless, free. They surround us in the same way as a language surrounds us. They have entered the mainstream of life over which they no longer, in themselves, have power.
- John Berger, art critic 1
A lot of people wouldn't know who Monet is if they hand't bought a T-shirt or poster first.
- Janet Smith, sales representative 2
A tourist enters the Nineteenth-Century American Paintings Gallery in an art museum. The paintings there have all passed into the public domain; no one holds the copyright to any of them. The tourist, planning to exercise her right to copy works in the public domain, pulls her camera from her bag to photograph one of the paintings. A guard steps forward. "No pictures in the galleries, ma'am." She returns her camera to her bag without taking the photograph, and instead, as she leaves the museum, stops in the gift shop and purchases the museum's own photograph of the painting. On the photograph, she sees a copyright notice, which prohibits her from copying, adapting, or publicly displaying the image she has bought.
To wield aesthetic and financial control over public-domain artworks in their collections, ...
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