Legal Issues

by Mike Masnick

Canada's National Gallery Confused About The Public Domain

from the a-lesson-in-copyrights? dept

With content in the public domain often shrinking or looked at with suspicion by content providers and the politicians they fund, it's unfortunate, but not that surprising, that folks at Canada's National Gallery don't seem to understand what the public domain means. The article first focuses on the ridiculous court order forcing people who bought the latest Harry Potter book early to return the book, along with any notes about the book -- and promise not to discuss it. However, it then follows it up with the story of a Canadian school who requested a copy of an old photograph from the National Gallery. The Gallery not only wanted to charge them a rather high fee for making the copy and sending it to them, but also demanded to see and approve how the photo would be used. Since this is a public domain photo, it's hard to see how they have the right to make that claim. The school in question then appealed to Liza Frulla, the Minister of Canadian Heritage (quite a title) who was recently quoted as saying that she "does not need advice on protecting Canadian culture" since "it is the story of her life." Frulla didn't feel the matter merited any attention and let the Gallery "protect" the public domain as it saw fit.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    Ivan Sick, Jul 19th, 2005 @ 6:50am

    No Subject Given

    apparently, "protecting Canadian culture" means keeping it under lock and key.

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

  2. identicon
    Joe Canadian, Jul 19th, 2005 @ 7:05am

    No Subject Given

    All Canadians KNOW that Liza Frulla is a moron. This proves it once again.

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

  3. identicon
    Dan Neuman, Jul 19th, 2005 @ 12:23pm


    The National Gallery of Canada has a cool service where you can rent a very high-quality negative of any of the public-domain paintings in the gallery (about $45, I've heard, assuming they've made a negative of it). You can then scan the negative and make a print of it for your own personal use. But you cannot sell or give away the scan, because the negative itself is copyrighted by the gallery. I think this is reasonable. If you took a photo of a public domain image on display (assuming they let you), you could do what you wanted with it. But the derivative work of the gallery (the negative) is still theirs. I suspect that the copy of the photo in the article has similar restrictions.

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

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