Do you have a question related to your museum or archive? A question about a sculpture or painting, rights and reproductions, exhibition marketing, in-house and visitor education? Ask your questions by commenting below.
15.1 Question: Do you need permission to include images in a print museum catalogue that will be sold in a bookstore?
Answer: Yes, you should obtain permission whether or not the catalogue is being sold. The inclusion of the image is a reproduction of that work. In some circumstances, you may be able to imply permission from the circumstances but that would not be in every case. (2009-3)
15.2 Question: May a museum display an item when the museum does not hold the copyright in the item? For example, may a museum display a picture or sculpture of a cartoon character? Or may a museum display an unlicensed drawing of a cartoon character?
Answer: Some countries have a special right relating to your fact situations. For instance, in Canada, there is a right of exhibition “to present at a public exhibition, for a purpose other than sale or hire, an artistic work created after coming into force of this paragraph, other than a map, chart or plan or cinematographic production that is protected as a photograph”. This is a right that belongs to the copyright owner of a work so you would need permission to exhibit a copyright-protected work in Canada.
15.3 Question: We have several 19th century stoneware pieces on loan to our museum. We would like to photograph the pieces. Do we need permission from the owner to photograph the objects? Does the owner of the stoneware own the copyright to any of the images we take of the objects he owns?
Answer: Sounds like the works are in the public domain and you are asking if the owner of the physical artifacts has to provide permission to photograph the items on loan. You do not need permission in terms of copyright law, but check your loan agreement and see what it says regarding photographing the artifacts and who may own the photographs if they are permitted.
15.4 Question: We have wallpapers in our historic house museums and wallpaper archive which were commercially available in the 1800s and 1900s. Some of these companies still exist – do we need their permission to reproduce the wallpapers?
Answer: Generally, wallpapers and functional items with designs on them are protected by another area of intellectual property called industrial design. Check the industrial design laws in your country and determine the length of protection and when these works fall into the public domain.
15.5 Question: Our museum has several video interviews that were donated to us by the interviewees. What rights do we have in the video’s?
Answer: Whoever recorded the interviews have the rights in the video recordings of them. You need copyright permission from such persons to reproduce, post online, or otherwise use the videos in a copyright manner. In addition, you should get releases (non-copyright ones) from the interviewees to ensure that they had agreed to the video recordings and any use that may be made of the recordings.
15.6 Question: Our organization was given a small collections of photographs that were taken of various artists with their works. If we have permission from the photographer (also the donor) to publish these photos, do we also need permission from the artists (or their estates)that are in the photos? For the most part, the artwork in the photos now belongs to our organization.
Answer: There are two legal issues you need to be concerned about in photographs of people. One is who owns the photographs — and whether permissions are needed to use the photos in certain manners. And two, what about the rights of the people in the photographs? In general, you should have a release from these people to protect against any claim against privacy and personality rights of the people in the photographs.
15.7 Question: When an artist or collector donates a painting to a museum, do the reproduction rights belong to the museum, artist or collector?
Answer: A donation of the painting means the physical painting is being given to the museum and not any of the copyrights, unless these are specifically transferred in writing. It is likely that the artist retained the copyrights but you will need to check this with the collector.