Image fees (ctd.)

September 10 2018

Image of Image fees (ctd.)

Picture: NationalMuseum via Wikipedia, Joseph Ducreux, Portrait of the Artist's Mother.

Another major museum has put its images into the public domain; the National Museum of Sweden has made 6,000  high resolution images of historic artworks available via Wikipedia (e.g., here). The most important thing, from the point of view of those campaigning to abolish museum image fees here in the UK, is the National Museum's unequivocal statement that there is no copyright in its photos of historic artworks:

Images in the Public Domain belong to our shared cultural heritage and you are free to use them however you like. The Nationalmuseum has dedicated these images to the Public Domain as they have been made exclusively by digitally reproducing works of art that are no longer protected by copyright. Even though this sometimes requires substantial resources and time, the Nationalmuseum does not consider that a new copyright emerges for the reproduction.

Meanwhile, here in the UK the question of image fees will be debated in Parliament for the first time later this week. Lord Freyberg has secured a debate in the House of Lords on Wednesday 12th September at 3.45; "Encouraging national museums and galleries to balance public access and commercial reuse of digital content".

Hopefully the debate will be a good chance to make the case for increased open access in UK museums. At the very least, it will an opportunity to put the arguments to government, and to see what they say. That said, I'd be surprised if the government said in response anything other than; 'not for us to get involved'. In advance of the debate, word has gone out from museum image departments to try and get supporters to take part. It'll be interesting to see what happens.

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