Monday, September 25, 2023

German Museum Sues Wikimedia for Copyright Infringement

H C Brandt's, Maria Amalie Auguste. Made December 31, 1768.

H C Brandt’s, Maria Amalie Auguste. Made December 31, 1768.

On October 28, the Reiss Engelhorn Museum in Mannheim, Germany, filed suit against the Wikimedia Foundation and later against Wikimedia Deutschland, the local German chapter of the global Wikimedia movement. The suit concerns copyright claims related to seventeen images of the museum’s public domain works of art, which have been uploaded to Wikimedia Commons.

According to Wikimedia’s blog,

The paintings, portraits, and other works of art at issue in this case are housed in the Reiss Engelhorn Museum, but exist freely in the public domain. However, German copyright law may apply to photographs of works in the public domain, depending on a number of different factors, including the artist who created the work, the amount of skill and effort that went into the photograph, creativity and originality in the photograph, and the actual art itself. The Reiss Engelhorn Museum asserts that copyright applies to these particular images because the museum hired the photographer who took some of them and it took him time, skill, and effort to take the photos. The Reiss Engelhorn Museum further asserts that because of their copyrights, the images of the artwork cannot be shared with the world through Wikimedia Commons.

The seventeen works in question may be viewed here.


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