Forget The Pyramids, How About Copyrights For Michelangelo's Works?

from the hurray-for-bad-copyright dept

First we find out that Egypt is trying to abuse the concept of copyright law to add copyrights to the pyramids, and now comes a story from The Register about how things like the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel are involved in a copyright mess. The article at The Register is a bit confusing, unfortunately, and jumps around to a bunch of different things without ever tying them clearly back together or making a truly coherent point -- but the key point is that the owners of certain artwork, which have long been in the public domain (much of which was created before the concept of copyright had ever been conceived of), are now asserting copyright over any photographs taken of that artwork. On top of that, the owners of such works, including the Sistine Chapel, are licensing out these "rights" over the artwork in exchange for cash to pay for restorations. So, in the case of the Sistine Chapel, the restoration was apparently paid for by the Japanese firm NHK in exchange for "exclusive rights" to the images of the restored Sistine Chapel. Unfortunately, the article doesn't discuss how limited (or broad) the specific rights really are, but it does seem somewhat ridiculous to use copyright in such a manner.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    random cellist, Dec 28th, 2007 @ 8:32pm

    I really hope that this copy writing of hight art within the realm of public domain doesn't bleed into the music scene. I already have to pay close to 70 USD for scores of Ravel's music since France law still holds his music under their copy write laws. This is just outrageous. Selling exclusive rights to art that is centuries old cannot be justified by any monetary value. Not to mention it is probably near impossible to strictly enforce. I hope that the Japanese firm realizes that in the end this transaction amounts to little more than a generous donation.

     

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  2.  
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    robbyrubiez, Dec 28th, 2007 @ 9:36pm

    Absolutely disgusting. Everyone is out to make a buck these days. The apocalypse is near.

     

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  3.  
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    The Cebuano Geek, Dec 28th, 2007 @ 9:52pm

    Bad!
    Paying for the pestoration work does not mean they can own the copyright!

     

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  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 28th, 2007 @ 9:53pm

    Simple argument

    It's a simple argument, really:

    Hand over the world's cultural heritage to the greedheads, or else.

    Capiche, buddy?

     

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  5.  
    identicon
    Ramon Casha, Dec 28th, 2007 @ 11:01pm

    Meanwhile...

    Iceland is considering a lawsuit for copyright infringement on anyone making unauthorised ice cubes, and Greece is demanding royalties for the use of democracy.

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 28th, 2007 @ 11:29pm

    Actually, i kind of like the idea with the sistine chapel...While the vatican may not own a "copyright" to the paintings there, they do own exclusive access to it. It is their right to charge people for coming in and taking photos of it, or selling that right to others. Of course they can't prevent anyone from selling copies of existing prints of it. The copyrights will actually be owned by the photographer, of the photograph. Their rights will be to sue anyone who sells copies of those photos, as should be his right. On the other hand, everyone expects the vatican to pay for the restoration out of its own pocket, and be responsible for the upkeep and preservation of it. Why shouldnt they be able to charge to see it?

     

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  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 28th, 2007 @ 11:48pm

    Re:

    are you kidding me?

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    jen_chan, writer surefirewealth.com, Dec 28th, 2007 @ 11:55pm

    Taking advantage

    I was taught in college about the importance of copyright, and the mess of copyright infringement. But now, I think that certain people should not cross the line. It pisses me off how certain people can be so abusive of copyright.

     

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  9.  
    identicon
    LBD, Dec 29th, 2007 @ 12:01am

    Re:

    That's material possession. It's very different from coppyright. it means "I own X. I do not want people to coppy my coppy of X. It is in my rights to prevent direct copies of the copy I own, though I have no rights over the image it's self, and copies of the copies I allow are quite legal. I may also restrict veiwing of the copy I own. I may or may not own the original"

     

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  10.  
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    Captain Nemo, Dec 29th, 2007 @ 4:59am

    Re: Meanwhile...

    Iceland will make a killing off of iron-deficiency.

     

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  11.  
    identicon
    Alfred E. Neuman, Dec 29th, 2007 @ 7:50am

    Homo Sapien Copyright

    Which African country will claim copyright on homo sapien DNA?
    I can imagine the emails from Nigeria.

    Along with your new born's birth certificate, the hospital will add to your bill a charge for your new copy. I wonder what sort of DRM Africa will demand?

     

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  12.  
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    Pete, Dec 29th, 2007 @ 8:12am

    I have already touch up the photos that I have with Adobe Photoshop. Since I have a finished product now, I will copyright mine first and sue anyone with something that is similar. Going out the door now to a lawyers office. Sistine Chapel don't spend any of that money It's legally mine.

     

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  13.  
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    finty, Dec 29th, 2007 @ 10:31am

    RE: Pete

    have already touch up the photos that I have with Adobe Photoshop. Since I have a finished product now, I will copyright mine first and sue anyone with something that is similar. Going out the door now to a lawyers office. Sistine Chapel don't spend any of that money It's legally mine.

    Nonsen !

     

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  14.  
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    Apoorv Khatreja, Dec 29th, 2007 @ 11:35am

    The evil of copyright laws

    Nigeria? I'd rather say South Africa would be involved :P.

     

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  15.  
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    Ron, Dec 29th, 2007 @ 9:28pm

    RTFA. NHK paid for the restoration of the Sistine Chapel in exchange for the exclusive rights to film the process (in HD no less) and release a book. No one is claiming copyright on the Sistine Chapel. The Register uses this as an example of something good, as opposed to other's who want to control the work of others.

     

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  16.  
    identicon
    Paul, Dec 29th, 2007 @ 10:23pm

    ??? Profit!

    Step 1: Make a classically bad Mike post
    Step 2: Being the classic comment-whore, check for comments every hour
    Step 3: When there is no comments change the title of the post to make it seem like a new story

     

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  17.  
    identicon
    Paul`, Dec 30th, 2007 @ 2:24am

    Re:

    When has it been any different?

     

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  18.  
    identicon
    Shohat, Dec 30th, 2007 @ 8:06am

    MIIIKE !! MIKE !! MIKE !!

    http://yro.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=07/12/30/059223

    I TOLD YOU !

    HA.

    NAH-NA NA-NA-NA.

    Seriously. The paper I told you to read, remember the "moreover" thing in that legal thing with the RIAA? . Well, here it is. This is the "moreover".


    iWin.

     

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  19.  
    identicon
    ShoNuff, Dec 30th, 2007 @ 9:41am

    Re: MIIIKE !! MIKE !! MIKE !!

    Hey, do you know the name of that guy who did that thing and was wearing that one thing in that movie I once mentioned a while ago?

    Seriously, could you use "thing" more and be much more vague and obnoxious in your post? I don't think we got enough of that thing in your last one.

     

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  20.  
    icon
    Mike (profile), Dec 30th, 2007 @ 12:21pm

    Re: ??? Profit!

    Ah, Paul, you're back again making incorrect assumptions and setting up strawmen. Why you keep doing that is beyond me.

    Step 1: Make a classically bad Mike post

    Well, I don't see how it's bad, but ok. Usually, if you think something is bad, you don't just say "classically bad" you explain *why* it's bad so that at least I have a chance to respond.

    Of course, if you don't actually have a reason and want to make up lies, then I guess it doesn't matter...

    Step 2: Being the classic comment-whore, check for comments every hour

    Actually, after I posted this on Friday night I went away for the weekend and haven't checked anything until now, two days later... but... ok.

    Step 3: When there is no comments change the title of the post to make it seem like a new story

    And here's where you have gone totally off the rails. When did I change the title? I didn't. The title of this post has been the same since I wrote it. And, as I said, I haven't even checked in on Techdirt since Friday evening so I'm not sure why you think I either checked on the comments or changed the title.

    You also seem confused as to my motivations. If a post doesn't get comments, that doesn't bother me. I'm not sure why you think it would.

    Paul, do you ever get sick of making stuff up trying to make me look bad? It's really rather unbecoming. What's funny is that I've called you on it all week every time you've put up a strawman or lied and you haven't apologized once. I'd really ask that if you're going to challenge me you at least don't do it with outright lies.

    Otherwise, you just come off as being rather sad.

     

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  21.  
    icon
    Mike (profile), Dec 30th, 2007 @ 12:22pm

    Re: MIIIKE !! MIKE !! MIKE !!

    Seriously. The paper I told you to read, remember the "moreover" thing in that legal thing with the RIAA? . Well, here it is. This is the "moreover".

    Hmm. Actually, all that looks like is the Washington Post making the same mistake based on the same story and the same quotes from Ray Beckerman.

    Repeating the same incorrect statement without any new evidence doesn't make it true...

     

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  22.  
    identicon
    C Silva, Dec 30th, 2007 @ 2:25pm

    Re: Meanwhile...

    hahahahaha that was a really good one!!

     

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  23.  
    identicon
    Comboman, Dec 30th, 2007 @ 2:35pm

    Restoration is a derivative work

    So, in the case of the Sistine Chapel, the restoration was apparently paid for by the Japanese firm NHK in exchange for "exclusive rights" to the images of the restored Sistine Chapel.

    The operative word there is "restored". This would be a derivative work and could legitimately be copyrighted starting with the date the restoration was complete. They can't control old photos or reproductions of the painting, but photos or reproductions of the restored painting are copyrighted.

     

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  24.  
    identicon
    Richard W. Davis, Dec 30th, 2007 @ 3:37pm

    Copyrights and Patents

    Since my great great; etc., grandfather was Cain, I claim patent on stones for use as tools. Able was my Uncle so I also claim all rights to agriculture too. A cousin of mine used a wheeled cart to haul firewood so I'm claiming my rights to wheels and fire. I think I need a lawyer.

    P.S. One of my people drew the first rectangle in the sand way back then, so all the roofs in Egypt and elsewhere are my infringed property. Long ago a family member had a cow so rights to all bullshit belong to me, so all lawyers, politicians and bloggers can cease and desist until I am properly compensated.

    P.P.S. Don't any of you say dammit either in response to my post...All the curse words are surely mine as well.

    P.P.P.S. I had a college professor once who said, "There are only three things that can come out of a human's mouth: Crap.
    Bull crap,
    and Cosmic Elephant Crap."

    Note: He said if first, but he didn't copyright it, so that too is mine.

    See ya,
    Coyote Davis

     

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  25.  
    identicon
    johndifo, Dec 30th, 2007 @ 4:50pm

    Re: Restoration is a derivative work

    So give us the original back

     

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  26.  
    identicon
    Kevin, Dec 30th, 2007 @ 6:58pm

    Re: Copyrights and Patents

    Dammit!

    Where should I send the royalties?

     

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  27.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 31st, 2007 @ 5:18am

    If it were in the U.S. you could indeed rant and rave about this..However this is Italy, their laws maybe different and if they are your interpretation means nothing.

     

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  28.  
    identicon
    Shaun, Dec 31st, 2007 @ 6:31am

    Re: Restoration is a derivative work

    That might be a possible argument but I'd think the effort they went through to keep it exactly authentic to the original, down to the original brush strokes might undermine it's "derivative work" status.

     

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  29.  
    identicon
    Doc, Dec 31st, 2007 @ 8:05am

    Multiply

    And the courts have found that you don't get charged per "copy" you infringe, but "per copy per store", as they assume copyright infringement is happening in all of a particular business' outlets.
    So.... If Wal-Mart gets caught by the copyright police for selling one "Garfield" birthday cake without paying royalties, they can be fined not just once for $100 (for example), but $200 x 3400 stores, or $680,000... Ouch!

    So pay up and shut up...or Garfield will hunt you down and eat you!

     

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  30.  
    identicon
    BoxFiesta, Jan 2nd, 2008 @ 1:31am

    Copyright Laws

    Thing is, Italy is going backwards on many things. I have posted often about how the western world in particular is creating more and more conservative laws to "hold on" while the east is pushing forward and thinking of the future.

    We must change our focus or risk being left behind.

     

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  31.  
    identicon
    Duodave, Jan 2nd, 2008 @ 8:36am

    Commissioned work

    Technically, the Sistine Chapel ceiling was a commissioned work. As such, its copyright is held by the Catholic Church. However, as I understand copyright law, anything made before a certain date before copyright law was created is exempt from copyright law. Hence, a work commissioned in 1508 is not subject to copyright law.

    If the Japanese firm "restored" the work to its original form, I would think that they could not hold copyrights to the restoration, as it restored it to the original form, not a modification.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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