User talk:Dcoetzee/NPG legal threat

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Derrick, I've been following attempts to censor the Internet (especially in Brazil, where I live) and I just found out this National Portrait Gallery legal threat. I'm somewhat surprised, because you're an American citizen, the Wikimedia Foundation is an American organization headquartered in the USA and the Wikimedia servers are located in Florida (USA). In the IWF attempt to censor Wikipedia in December 2008, there were real means to do that in the UK (block the content to the British Internet users via British ISP, as they did in fact). In this case, it's difficult to figure out how they could effectively reach you. Are you going to do something about that legal threat? Did you take any legal advice about that? Are you afraid? Does it bother you?
Good luck! :-)
Joaquim Mariano (talk) 06:30, 11 July 2009 (UTC)[reply]

Hi Joaquim. Please see discussion at Commons:Village_pump#Legal_threat_from_National_Portrait_Gallery. I have not yet committed to any particular course of action, but will consult with an attorney who is familiar with this type of case. Dcoetzee (talk) 07:06, 11 July 2009 (UTC)[reply]


In a number of forums there is a claim being spread that the WMF has completely ignored the NPG and therefore somehow left Dcoetzee hung out to dry. This misunderstanding appears to stem from statements like "Wikimedia Foundation has ignored this request" and "Wikimedia Foundation has ignored our client’s attempts" in the letter. The NPG has, in fact, received responses to their complaints and they aren't claiming otherwise. What they are stating is that their complaints did not achieve a response that satisfied them. Might it be helpful if some comment to that effect were placed at the top?

The letter also alleges that the Wikimedia Foundation has ignored prior attempts to reach a mutually satisfactory conclusion. To the best of my ability to tell this does not appear to be the case. Aggressive and legally uninformed without the slightest hint of compromise is the only way in which I can characterize the prior messages sent on about these images that I have access to. In fact, in 2006 when the NPG complained about Wikipedia using images of works in their collection an agreement was reached between the wikipedia volunteer handling the issue and the NPG to provide credit and a link back. This type of attribution has since been provided on images of works in the NPGs collection, but the NPG has apparently turned its back on this prior arrangement.

I'm generally concerned that by leaving the NPG letter here largely without comment we're letting them have the floor. Many people are uninformed on the matter and don't realize the enormous harm that would be caused were organizations allowed to effective seize the copyright on works hundreds of years old by digitizing and denying access to (or destroying) originals, and they don't recognize that there are ways to fund museum work which are fair and proportional and don't involve robbing our descendants by privatizing antiquities and degrading the access to this material for the hundreds of millions of online viewers. Nor does it appear to be widely understood licensing is only a small portion of the NPG's income, and it's not clear how much of that is sourced from the still in copyright works in their collections. It isn't widely understood that NPG's legal theories are suspect even under UK law and that in the US their copyright assertions are, quite possibly, criminal (17.§506(c)). In fact, there is a rather large amount of misinformation on that point as there are some well funded lobbying groups arguing otherwise. Nor are many people making the connection with the mechanical shoot-first take down policies of other user contributed content sites which are widely decried for removing material which is unquestionably permitted by law. Or the worthwhile arrangements that have been brokered with other museums. In short, there is a whole other side (if not three) to this matter that people ought to be able to hear and consider as well. --Gmaxwell (talk) 20:46, 12 July 2009 (UTC)[reply]

In short, I think a statement on this page would be perceived as a public statement by me, if only due to the URL, which I'm not yet willing to issue because any public statement I make may be held against me and I am still consulting representation. I believe many of the external coverage sources I've listed have done a good job of discussing the complexity of the case. Dcoetzee (talk) 02:07, 13 July 2009 (UTC)[reply]
Right, The perceived source issue is why I didn't make any changes to it myself. --Gmaxwell (talk) 02:30, 13 July 2009 (UTC)[reply]

Why high res in the first place?[edit]

I don't understand why you needed to use the high res images. The rights belong to the National Gallery, they've digitized them, it costs money, you are potentially circumventing a legitimate stream of income. The Wikipedia is a web based resource, the images should be only available in low res, unless the owner expressly allows this. Clearly the National Gallery does not want this to happen and for what seems to be to be a legitimate reason. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Mrsrowe (talk • contribs) 2009-07-15T17:30:37 (UTC)

I cannot respond directly to any questions or arguments on this page. Dcoetzee (talk) 21:13, 15 July 2009 (UTC)[reply]

Mrsrowe, I do not represent anyone but myself, but I would still like you to consider my position.

In no civilized place (of which I consider the UK :) ) is "I did something, it cost money, if you copy it I won't enjoy as much income" by itself a legitimate basis for a copyright claim. Copyright is a social compromise: The public agrees to give up some of their rights in order to create a monopoly on performance, copying, etc as incentive for artists to create and after a while the monopoly expires and the works become the shared property of humanity. New artists then build off the old, no longer copyrighted, works and our society flourishes. This system is defeated if it becomes possible to take works which are hundreds of years old, place them in a vault where no one can make their own copies, and then assert a new copyright over the copies which you do allow to be created. If that were possible it would be a terrible loophole in the rules of copyright. I strongly suggest reading the last two "relevant resources" on the main page here.

The 'low resolution' images that are often distributed of these artworks are low indeed— too low to see many salient details of the works: Too low to see background details, too low to see stroke direction, etc. Even the 'high resolution' images we have are far lower than the maximum resolution usually captured by museums (which is usually tens of thousands of pixels in each dimension) and which is required to see the finest details of the work. If there were no use in having the higher resolution images, there would be little reason to complain about having them. Moreover, to the best of my ability to tell the claim that there is an offer of low resolution images is empty: It was hedged with a requirement for 'protection', or in other words digital restrictions, which are forbidden by the licensing of the other content in Wikipedia. Moreover it would require the Wikimedia project be complicit in the NPG's capturing of the public domain— an activity that many consider to be antisocial and at least somewhat dishonest. In the past Wikipedians have made agreements with other archival organizations for the release of images, but in no case that I'm aware of has anyone continued to claim that the images were anything but in the public domain.

The fact that the NPG's press is promoting a very slanted and misleading version of events, while the Wikimedia Foundation and other involved are minding their legal concerns and saying little is unfortunate and fostering a fair amount of confusion. I don't think I've ever recommended Wikinews before, but I think they're providing a more balanced coverage of this specific issue than most places: wikinews:U.K. National Portrait Gallery threatens U.S. citizen with legal action over Wikimedia images. You may wish to consider the points raised there along with the Hirdle and Hamma papers I recommended above.

(if anyone feels like removing this whole section from the page, I wouldn't object to my comments being removed along with the initial question)

Cheers, --Gmaxwell (talk) 15:42, 16 July 2009 (UTC)[reply]

The images are not particularly high resoloution, 2400 x about 3000; about the same as a modern consumer medium/low resolution digital camera and considerably inferior to amateur 35 mm film. I would have thought these web versions are unlikely to be the full resolution the NPG uses to produce the "A3 canvas" or "A2 satin" reproductions they sell. This does call into question the amount of "time, skill, effort and artistry" employed for these web images. Rwendland (talk) 17:21, 17 July 2009 (UTC)[reply]
Looking at one of the 2400 pixel wide paintings uploaded, of Baron John Belasyse Bellassis, it looks like the 2400 pixel format is already a compression of an original scanning or high-res photo, because obvious pixellation lines are visible around the face and the boots area. I would say this proves the museum has 10k or 20k wide giant bitmap sources of those paintings, which have not yet been provided on the web, but stored offline on some server.
This means two things: the museum can still make revenue selling hi-end reproductions based on those megascans and if they continue pissing off the netizen community with legal threats, some teenage hacker will potentially punish them by breaking into their "supposedly offline" curator's storage server, which is likely stupidly connected to the network and nick all those 20k pixel wide megascans and dump them on bittorrent. There will be a grinding of teeth then. Remember, information wants to be free! 82.131.210.163 19:39, 17 July 2009 (UTC)[reply]
FYI since this time I created Commons:Why we need high-resolution media Dcoetzee (talk) 21:51, 29 August 2013 (UTC)[reply]

Commons pump link[edit]

I suggest restoring a direct link to this discussion [1] at the top of the page - the link is currently lost way down the list on the "coverage" page. 87.194.52.251 14:48, 16 July 2009 (UTC)[reply]

Gordian knot cut short[edit]

Simply put the USA does not recognize "sweat of the brow" doctrine in law, so it's "wild-west landgrab" for anyone, no matter how much someone else abroad laboured to digitize, enchance or restore the material for online compatibility. The british claims therefore have no basis, since Wikimedia is in Las Vegas, USA soil and the whole net is under US jurisdiction, because the USA invented and built it.

The britons should have thought twice before putting hi-res material on the web in pieces or as a whole. Whatever digital gets circumvented, that is a law of nature. This may have a chilling effect on further museum material digitization projects, but that's not a matter for law to consider.

Hopefully the whole news bruhaha will result in the entire 3300 picture ZIP package circle the globe over Bittorrent in the shortest possible time, so that tens of millions will download it, including millions who would not be interested in fine arts in the first place without this scandal. Considering this the net result will be a big benefit for the entire mankind! 82.131.210.163 19:20, 17 July 2009 (UTC)[reply]

Actually, the net was invented in switzerland. -mattbuck (Talk) 00:31, 28 July 2009 (UTC)[reply]
The web was invented in Switzerland. I think the Internet was invented by the US military. Yann (talk) 18:27, 28 July 2009 (UTC)[reply]
Organisations, especially military organisations, don't invent anything. Inventors are always persons - real, living persons, not corporations. In this case, Joseph Licklider invented the Internet in the sense that he 'formulated the earliest ideas of a global computer network in August 1962 at BBN.' 'In October 1963, Licklider was appointed head of the Behavioral Sciences and Command and Control programs at the Defense Department's Advanced Research Projects Agency — ARPA (the initial ARPANET acronym). He then convinced Ivan Sutherland and Bob Taylor that this computer network concept was very important and merited development, although Licklider left ARPA before any contracts were let that worked on this concept.' (All quotes from the relevant articles in Wikipedia.)124.186.93.5 08:22, 29 August 2013 (UTC)[reply]

WP article[edit]

I tried to make a article on this for Wikipedia, but now someone's trying to delete it using BLP, POV forking, and reliable sourcing as an excuse. Help? ViperSnake151 (talk) 00:10, 28 July 2009 (UTC)[reply]

Farrer & Co. got it so wrong[edit]

They are telling people that all images here are under the GFDL, and thus we are trying to claim copyright on these images and make others do same.[2]. And whoever wrote that Register article has no idea what he's talking about. Rocket000 (talk) 07:31, 2 August 2009 (UTC)[reply]

Copyright on reproductions of paintings[edit]

The NPG only asserts copyright on reproductions of paintings (from what I can understand in the letter from their lawyer). I uploaded the image File:Marcus_Samuel_mw179354.jpg, which was taken in 1902 by the London Stereoscopic & Photographic Company in 1902. The copyright is clearly expired no matter what side of the Atlantic you're on. Case closed as far as I'm concerned. The NPG would only be the holder of the physical bromide image, they can claim no copyright on the image itself. Oaktree b (talk) 18:46, 6 August 2012 (UTC)[reply]