Saturday, February 13, 2016

Should Museums Be In the Licensing Business?

Peter Hirtle, from the LibraryLaw Blog, takes this July 4th to ponder why, given the ominous copyright cloud, museums and repositories would even bother getting into the licensing business. He picks up on our previous post on photographer Anne Pearse-Hocker copyright lawsuit against Firelight Media and the Smithsonian. Hirtle’s thoughts:

[T]he document reveals the kind of misunderstandings that can result when repositories get into the permissions business. To me, the most troubling portion of the document is Exhibit D, the museum’s permission form, which states that “Permission is granted for the use of the following imagery, worldwide, all media rights for the life of the project.”  Firelight is then charged $150 in permission fees for the use of the three listed images. If I was Firelight, I would assume that I was in the clear; I had worldwide rights.  What the form does not make clear is that the permission derives from the Smithsonian’s rights as the owner of the physical negatives.

He continues:

The case is a strong reminder that when making reproductions for patrons and granting permissions, repositories need to be crystal-clear about what they are doing.

Hirtle’s entire comments can be read here.


Yale Finds Velazquez Painting

A dusty, damaged canvas discovered in the basement art collection of Yale University has been identified as a work from 17th century Spanish painter Diego Velazquez. The painting is supposed to have been painted when Velazquez was 18, and dates to 1617. The piece was originally found six years ago, but Yale officials waited until tests could verify the painting was a Velazquez. Via CBC.


Fakes and Forgeries at The National Gallery London

The National Gallery London is about to open its worst exhibition ever. The pictures are deplorable: incompetent copies, botched restorations, outright fakes. The most painful thing for the gallery is that it bought most of them genuinely believing they were masterpieces. A fascinating new show examines the controversial question of fakery, forgeries and mistaken identities in art. The exhibition runs from June 30th to September 12th. Via The Guardian.


Stolen Caravaggio Found In Berlin

The 17th-century painting The Taking of Christ by Italian Renaissance artist Michelangelo Caravaggio, stolen from a Ukrainian museum in 2008, has been found in Berlin. The suspects arrested in the case had reportedly brought the work to Berlin in the hope of selling it to a German collector. Experts estimate that the painting is worth as much as several tens of million euros. Via Ria Novosti.


Parallel Lines: A Project on NYC’s High Line

Photo, Bob Horton

Photo, Bob Horton

Six artists and writers, Michael Cataldi, John Houck, David Kelley, Hans Kuzmich, Jens Maier-Rothe, and Jeannine Tang, are investigating the use and development of public space. Through their documentary, Parallel Lines, the artists focus on New York City’s recent development of The High Line, and ask pertinent and timely questions.

How does public space get imagined, funded, inhabited, used and produced? Who defines public space, and for what ends? How are populations distributed for access to space, quality of life, housing and survival? How do zoning and property development produce relations of privacy and publicness? What are the visual, architectural and environmental methods that render space public? How do we identify with each other as “the public”, and what feelings and emotions contour these experiences? How can we imagine and create the public space we desire?

In their own words, the artists respond:

Parallel Lines is a documentary and a demand for the public space we need, told through lives, histories and developments parallel to the High Line, a park on New York City’s West Side. The High Line opened to the public in June 2009, and has become a frequently celebrated example of public space for community, culture, innovative design, and urban renewal. As the High Line becomes a model public space, we critically investigate its aesthetic, economic, legal, political, architectural and urban development processes and the history of its surrounding neighborhoods[.]

Check out their website and keep up with the project development here. (Disclosure: I was interviewed for this documentary and appear in the video available on their website.)


Airspace, Air Rights, and Law

If you’re interested in air rights and the use and contestation of air space, you may find this of interest. Interaction designer Nelly Ben Hayoun and geography researcher Dr Alison J Williams teamed up for Airspace Activism, a project that investigates the geographies of UK military airspaces which are used by air forces to train and prepare for combat situations.

During the early years of aviation aircraft flew at a relatively low altitude. However, laws existed that gave land-owners ownership of the entirety of the vertical space above the footprint of their house, including the air. This led to a myriad of problems for aviators and landowners who became locked in battle over payment for access to these spaces.

Here’s a good interview with the artists, including tactics on creating disruptive “white noise.”


Thieves Steal Ming Dynasty Painting

Armed bandits made off with a 14th or 15th century Chinese painting worth $150,000 from an art dealership in Yaohan Center Mall in Richmond, British Columbia, last Saturday afternoon. The painting was a Ming Dynasty antique by painter Lan Ying. The thieves also made off with two jade Buddha statues of unknown value and a piece of Chinese caligraphy art. Via The Province.


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