Friday, October 31, 2014

Removing All Restrictions: Interview with Peter Hirtle

For those interested in the current and emerging issues and conflicts regarding copyright and the archiving of public domain content, I’ve been meaning to mention a recent interview with Peter Hirtle, Senior Policy Advisor for the Cornell University Library, that discusses the background and reasoning behind Cornell Library’s new policy which states that it will not exert any ownership over public domain items in their collection.  While it is library-oriented and not centered on art, Hirtle thinks (and I concur) that the arguments could apply to art institutions and museums as well.

Hirtle discusses the issues raised by the legal and practical complexities associated with public domain material; the Google book project; jurisdictional issues; the options the Library considered; logistical and administrative problems with legal enforcement;  contractual options; commercial vs. non-commercial use; and the downside of the Library’s “free use” model.

This is a phenomenal interview with solid reasoning as to Cornell Library’s “free model” approach, with sophisticated legal  and policy rationales which other museums and archiving institutions could learn much from. 

Keep in mind that this is not a “let culture be free” argument (the “culture” here is already free (public domain)), but rather a well thought-out argument as to how institutions can benefit from making ”free culture” be more accessible.

Interview information:

Peter Hirtle, “Removing All Restrictions: Cornell’s New
Policy on Use of Public Domain Reproductions.”
Research Library Issues: A
Bimonthly Report from ARL, CNI, and SPARC, no. 266 (October 2009): 1–6.


Who Owns Truth and Justice?


According to a news report, a corporation.

The city of Louisville, Kentucky has been wondering lately who owns a public sculpture installed outside its Legal Arts Building nearly 30 years ago.

The sculpture piece, Truth and Justice, was originally thought lost but was eventually found. The problem now is not only deciding what to do with it, but determining the rightful owner.  Apparently the paperwork detailing ownership has been lost, and the only account remaining rests with a 1973, Courier-Journal article that reported the artist commissioned to create the sculpture by the Downtown Development Corporation — a former Jefferson County financial entity, and builder of the Legal Arts Building.

The Courier-Journal has a bit more here.


No Choo Choo for Lacma; Koons Project Derailed

From today’s Bloombergnews:

The recession has derailed a Jeff Koons sculpture involving a replica of a 1944 Baldwin locomotive with an estimated cost of $25 million, making it one of the most expensive public art projects ever undertaken.

Scheduled to arrive at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in 2011-2012, the “Train” project got pushed to 2014-2015 when the stock market plunged last year, erasing 23 percent of Lacma’s endowment and forcing it to rethink budget priorities, the museum said. It could be canceled altogether if the museum doesn’t come up with necessary funding.



Chauffeur Charged With Stealing Employer’s Art

Heinz 57, by Andy Warhol

Heinz 57, by Andy Warhol

James Biear, a chauffeur, is charged with wire fraud and mail fraud for stealing several art pieces and heirlooms including a Warhol and selling it to a Pennsylvania art dealer for $220,000.

Biear’s now-former employer noticed his Warhol Heinz 57 box missing from his Greenwich Village apartment. He then contacted the FBI.

NY Post has the story here.


New York DA Drops Charges Against Nude Model

According to the NY Post, the Manhattan DA’s Office yesterday dropped its case against a woman who frolicked nude for an unauthorized film shoot at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.


Graffiti Artist Arrested at His Own Ceremony


Jason Williams, a reputed tagger who was paid $1,000 to be a featured “guest artist” at a self-described graffiti art store, was arrested at the 33rd Graffiti Art Store this past weekend after police authorities found him carrying tools used in tagging.

Williams, who was on probation and goes by the name REVOK, was appearing Sunday as the guest of honor at the 33rd Graffiti Art Store, said Sgt. Augie Pando of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.  Williams was arrested on suspicion of illegally possessing vandalism tools, a counterfeit Los Angeles Police Department badge, and receiving stolen property.


Couple Tried to Sell Fake Warhols


Two Utahns, a 65-year-old Cottonwood Heights man and a 29-year-old woman from Saratoga Springs, were charged Wednesday with trying to sell fake Warhols to a collector by passing them off as real.

According to legal docs, the couple agreed to sell another man six Andy Warhol art pieces for $100,000 in February 2008. The man was told that the subject of the art was Mathew Baldwin, purportedly one of Hollywood’s Baldwin brothers. The pieces were signed and dated 1996.

Note to reader: there is no “Mathew Baldwin” and, most importantly, Warhol died in 1987. Both are charged with theft by deception and communications fraud, second-degree felonies. They also face six third-degree felony charges of forgery.

More from The Salt Lake Tribune here.


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