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Protection and Control of Museum Images in Education Straddling the Not-So-Bright Line Between Necessity and Infringement Christine L. Sundt, University of Oregon Copyright & Art Issues My Goals: Provide background for academic practices

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protection and control of museum images in education

Protection and Control of Museum Images in Education

Straddling the Not-So-Bright Line Between Necessity and Infringement

Christine L. Sundt, University of Oregon

Copyright & Art Issues

my goals
My Goals:
  • Provide background for academic practices
  • Look at museums’ educational goals
  • Examine the causes of conflict between practice and tradition, the law and museums
  • Offer ideas for expanding and promoting AAM’s educational mandate
purpose and uses of images
To teach

To inspire

To illustrate

To supplement

To review

To enhance

To display

To share

To promote

To decorate

Purpose and Uses of Images
how images are acquired
How images are acquired -
  • From artists/creators or galleries/agents
  • From museums
  • From vendors or licensors
  • From catalogs and books
  • By photographing on site
  • Through bequests and donations
museums as educational institutions
Museums as educational institutions
  • “Engage in active ongoing collaboration efforts with a wide spectrum of organizations and individuals who can contribute to the expansion of the museum’s public dimension.” (#6)
  • “Commit leadership and financial resources—in individual museums, professional organizations, and training organizations and universities—to strengthen the public dimension of museums.”(#10)
  • “Assert that museums place education…at the center of their public service roles.” (#1)
the view from the trenches

The view from the trenches

Art historical practices and traditions: The ties with museums and the Copyright Law

museums as responsible protectors
Museums as responsible protectors
  • Access may be regulated by copyright but more often it is contract and/or property law that rules
  • The laws are complex and cumbersome – a bundle of rights and many generations of owners
  • Revenue issues take precedence over goodwill in the real world
where the law assists education
Where the law assists education
  • The constitutional mandate
  • Privileged use
  • Special exemptions
  • Codification of fair use
  • TEACH Act
  • Guidelines
where education and copyright collide
Where education and copyright collide
  • Limitations with exemptions
  • Creativity vs. preparedness
  • Images as integral entitles
  • Lawfully viable?
  • Cumbersome processes
  • Discord through criticism
more collisions
More collisions
  • Fair use is not warm and fuzzy
  • The public domain as the great unknown
  • The consequences of the K-12 ‘cut & paste’ curriculum
  • Appropriation as an expression of honor
  • Technology & the instant copy
  • Licensing and contracts
  • The disappearing public domain
educational scholarship the facts
Educational scholarship: The facts
  • How much is actually ‘published’?
  • Scholarship IS mandated, not just an option
  • Color images are seldom possible in low-budget scholarly publications
  • An educator is unlikely to reap profits from scholarly publishing
  • Scholarly publishing is a ‘limited edition’ when compared to commercial publishing
more facts
More facts
  • Small market + high costs = diminishing audience
  • Value added through scholarship should be properly compensated
  • Limitations on use are disproportionate to value derived from exposure and discourse
  • AAM’s educational mandate must be revisited
the shrinking world of resources
The shrinking world of resources
  • Services being abandoned:
    • Slide sales
    • Bookstores
    • Lending libraries & collections
  • Digital is just another technology, not a replacement for everything
  • High costs associated with technology do not go away
and still more shrinking
And still more shrinking…
  • Community outreach is replacing services to research and scholarship
  • When does control threaten access?
  • Usage rights are more complex under today’s laws
  • Images are proliferating on the Web, but the ‘look, but don’t touch’ rule can cause confusion and frustration
museums fears
Museums’ fears
  • Images will be lost forever if they are freely available
  • The promised revenue stream from images may never be realized
  • Museums will not be able to protect their interests and act responsibly
  • Attendance will suffer if images are too readily accessible
controls and balances
Controls and balances
  • Piracy and any other unauthorized exploitations can and should be litigated
  • Fair use, especially in education, is not piracy, even though the user must ‘take’ something in order to use it
  • Images of artwork in the public domain should not be subject to the same controls as work still under copyright
  • Museums must work together to create an equitable & fair method for protecting their interests without disabling access for educators and scholars
  • The art ‘experience’ is still more thrilling than looking at a digital substitute
a proposal to assist in requesting permissions a fair use test
A proposal to assist in requesting permissions – a ‘fair use’ test
  • Developed by Tom Bower, National Museum of American History, for the CAA/NINCH Copyright Town Meeting, Chicago, 2001
  • Available for examination online at
  • Recently offered to the AAMD for review by Patricia Failing, Chair, Committee on Intellectual Property, College Art Association
final thoughts
Final thoughts
  • Try to distinguish between true creativity and hard-core exploitation
  • Raise the bar for commercial uses to cover & eliminate costs for education and scholarship

Order Today!

and finally
And finally…
  • Re-examine the ‘Excellence and Equity’ mandates to look for ways to encourage access in the name of education even though some risk is involved.
links news and views
Links, News, and Views:

Edited by Christine L. Sundt

Email address:

  • courses_homepage.html
  • An Art History lecture in the big lecture hall (JT 120) in Juomatehdas
  • photos/bobo_1_th.jpg Institute for Medieval Studies University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM 87131-0001
  • The Humanities Advanced Technology and Information Institute
  • Museum News advertisement: Maltbie, Women’s Museum