[cc-licenses] License , copyright issues

Terry Hancock hancock at anansispaceworks.com
Mon Oct 2 14:54:16 EDT 2006

Peter Brink wrote:
 > NB! It's the "original" paintings that are in
>  the PD. Photos of those paintings are (in India) protected "until
>  sixty years from the beginning of the calendar year next following
>  the year in which the photograph is published".

Presumeably, this is under *Indian* law, based on the rest of the quoted 

Under *US* law, the photographs are "mere reproductions" and cannot be 
copyrighted in themselves (there is some subtlety here -- this is only 
true for flat-on photographic reproductions of work, a photograph of the 
interior of a museum, with paintings on the walls is, of course, 
copyrightable as a new work).

(Technically a photocopy or lithograph is a photo, too, so you can see 
the problem if you don't have this definition in principle -- it would 
effectively destroy the public domain entirely. The sticky question is 
where exactly to draw the line between a reproduction and an original 

This was decided by a court case only a few years back.  I believe that 
German law agrees with the US decision.  UK law appears to go the other 
way, but I think it's untested in court.

Now why does this matter to you in India?

*Because*, what matters is *what country the photos were taken in*.  
Photos from a US museum, are public domain if the works they depict are 
public domain.

This may also be true for Germany and other countries, but I'm not 
advising you on that -- you'll have to look it up.

>  2) If you have access to the original works you may take your own
>  photos...

You always have this option, regardless of the legal question above.

>  5) While it's true that all the great 16th and 17th century masters
>  works are not copyright protected, the owners (museums mostly) have
>  the right to allow or disallow the taking of photographs of the
>  paintings they own. In effect this means that any reproduction you
>  may have is protected by a copyright to the photo of the painting.
>  However, you are (in most cases) free to go to a museum and make your
>  own reproduction by hand...

This varies by jurisdiction (probably true within the UK, definitely NOT 
true in the USA).

Wikipedia addresses this, BTW:

So, if you take a savvy approach to where you get your photos, you can 
do what you want.


Terry Hancock (hancock at AnansiSpaceworks.com)
Anansi Spaceworks http://www.AnansiSpaceworks.com

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