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.