Feeds

How to copyright Michelangelo

From the Borgias to Bill Gates

Top three mobile application threats

NHK would fund high resolution photographic surveys of the pre- and post-restoration frescos. The ceiling would be hidden behind scaffolding for years, the restoration work could only be seen in photos cautiously released by the Vatican and NHK. When the restored work was finally unveiled, everyone wanted to see the pictures in the new NHK art book. It was a sensation, as promised, each image was as bright and sharp as the day it was painted. NHK won accolades for its patronage, and recouped some of its expenses with the film and book. The Vatican got a free restoration, and the work was preserved for the future.

But there is some legal controversy surrounding this issue. Old artworks may have an owner, but no living author or heirs, and the rights may have expired. If the work is in the public domain, the only guardian is the owner, who has an incentive to exploit those rights for profit. In 1999, a US District Court appears to completely strip away those rights.

In the case of Bridgeman Art Library, LTD. vs Corel Corp., Bridgeman sued Corel for infringement. Corel had sold unauthorized CDROMs with Bridgeman's copyrighted images of public domain artworks.

Bridgeman lost the case, and the court set a legal precedent that a photograph of an artwork is not a new work eligible for copyright. Bridgeman had inadvertently destroyed a major market for its products and weakened its central business model. But the US legal precedent does not apply in the UK where both Bridgeman and El Reg operate, so we must pay for the privilege of publishing them.

Some organizations are skirting around this issue. One of my favorite images from the Sistine Chapel ceiling is known as the "Delphic Sibyl." The Sibyl is supposed to be a woman, but Michelangelo prefered young boys as models, so we get a charming figure with an androgynous face and manly arms jutting out from under her blouse and cape. An image of the restored Sibyl is available on Wikipedia, with this disclaimer:

This image (or other media file) is in the public domain because its copyright has expired.

This applies to the United States, Canada, the European Union and those countries with a copyright term of life of the author plus 70 years.

Faithful reproductions of two-dimensional original works cannot attract copyright in the U.S. according to the rule in Bridgeman Art Library v. Corel Corp. This photograph was taken in the U.S. or in another country where a similar rule applies.

But the disclaimer avoids mentioning UK law; a footnote links to a clarification that accessing this image in the UK could be an infringing action. The Wikipedia image left is unattributed, leaving the international legal status unclear.

The British Museums Copyright Group issued a statement denouncing the Bridgeman v. Corel decision, and advocating the preservation of existing copyright laws concerning reproduction of art objects. Museums and institutions demand control of their IP rights, so it could be difficult to find donors to support restoration and preservation projects if the Intellectual Property rights become worthless.

At this stage, a new and powerful figure enters the picture.

Top three mobile application threats

Next page: Bootnote

More from The Register

next story
Sorry London, Europe's top tech city is Munich
New 'Atlas of ICT Activity' finds innovation isn't happening at Silicon Roundabout
MtGox chief Karpelès refuses to come to US for g-men's grilling
Bitcoin baron says he needs another lawyer for FinCEN chat
Dropbox defends fantastically badly timed Condoleezza Rice appointment
'Nothing is going to change with Dr. Rice's appointment,' file sharer promises
Audio fans, prepare yourself for the Second Coming ... of Blu-ray
High Fidelity Pure Audio – is this what your ears have been waiting for?
Did a date calculation bug just cost hard-up Co-op Bank £110m?
And just when Brit banking org needs £400m to stay afloat
Zucker punched: Google gobbles Facebook-wooed Titan Aerospace
Up, up and away in my beautiful balloon flying broadband-bot
Apple DOMINATES the Valley, rakes in more profit than Google, HP, Intel, Cisco COMBINED
Cook & Co. also pay more taxes than those four worthies PLUS eBay and Oracle
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a defence for mobile apps
In this whitepaper learn the various considerations for defending mobile applications; from the mobile application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies needed to properly assess mobile applications risk.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.