December 10, 2017, 09:27:32 PM

Author Topic: Public art/sculptures and selling photos  (Read 4301 times)

Kit Lens Jockey

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Public art/sculptures and selling photos
« on: May 06, 2017, 10:46:46 AM »
In my estimation, I'm guessing that it's probably an infringement of copyright to try to sell a photo of a work of art or sculpture that's displayed in public. Is this correct? And if so, how can I go online and find things like this?

https://fineartamerica.com/shop/prints/spirit+of+detroit

So what is the deal? Am I to assume that all of these people are willfully infringing copyright and are either oblivious or willfully flaunting the law? I can't imagine that everyone here went through the probably very difficult process of obtaining a license to sell photos of this.

I'm just trying to get my head around US copyright laws with respect to selling photos of public works of art, and beyond that, buildings in general. I saw in the other thread where the guy got told he couldn't take photos on a college campus that buildings made after 1990 can be copyrighted, so I guess selling a photo of any new building is taking a risk.

What about things like sports stadiums? And hell, what about sports stadiums with public art in front of them? I mean, how is this thing for sale?

https://fineartamerica.com/products/detroit-tigers-comerica-park-front-gate-tiger-david-haskett-art-print.html

Seems like a copyright infringement nightmare to me. You've got a stadium built after 1990 in the photo, a sculpture, a bank logo, and part of a sports team logo.

Is this basically just a case of probably infringing but too small of an issue for such large businesses to worry about?

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Public art/sculptures and selling photos
« on: May 06, 2017, 10:46:46 AM »

privatebydesign

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Re: Public art/sculptures and selling photos
« Reply #1 on: May 06, 2017, 11:29:30 AM »
It depends!

Does the work of art have a copyright? How much of the picture does the work of art occupy, how much of the work of art is  included, does the photographer add a new meaning or transform the work of art to a new area? All these things are subjective and the copyright law is deliberately written so the legal system has leeway in interpreting the creators intent and execution.

There is no hard and fast answer, just look up the myriad of interesting copyright cases to see how much interpretation is taken into account by the judges in these cases.
Too often we lose sight of the fact that photography is about capturing light, if we have the ability to take control of that light then we grow exponentially as photographers. More often than not the image is not about lens speed, sensor size, DR, MP's or AF, it is about the light.

timmy_650

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Re: Public art/sculptures and selling photos
« Reply #2 on: May 06, 2017, 04:44:16 PM »

Lurker

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Re: Public art/sculptures and selling photos
« Reply #3 on: May 06, 2017, 08:10:24 PM »
Go to a nearby public art museum and talk to the museum staff about what can and can't be photographed.

Around here it was explained to me, anything that is the owned by a "Public" museum or a government body, or funded by public dollars is the property of the people and can be reproduced (limitations are allowed to preserve the original work and protect public safety.  No flash, no closer than, no tripod rules are acceptable even if they make reproduction impossible or impractical). 

At our museum they have traveling exhibits and these usually have different rules.  Private collections are controlled by the owner of the collection and they usually prohibit reproduction.  Work that is loaned and on display by permission but is still the property of the artist is protected and the artist has the right to control reproduction.

Private museums can also restrict reproduction.

Our art museum tags art works that can not be reproduced.

unfocused

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Re: Public art/sculptures and selling photos
« Reply #4 on: May 07, 2017, 01:41:47 AM »
If you want to get more confused. Look up Richard Prince

https://www.theverge.com/2015/5/30/8691257/richard-prince-instagram-photos-copyright-law-fair-use

Then to make your head spin, try Sherrie Levine

aftersherrielevine.com

To add a bit of clarity: the deciding factor is whether or not the artist has created a new work of art. I don't think there is any question that the images referenced by the OP represent a new work of art.

Hillsilly

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Re: Public art/sculptures and selling photos
« Reply #5 on: May 07, 2017, 04:28:25 AM »
It seems very complicated.  The only thing I can take away from this is that if you are rich and/or famous you can get away with almost anything.  But for the rest of us, if we want to make a career of re-photographing and selling photos of other people's artwork, it is probably best to be very heavy handed wth post production so the focus is more on your style than on the piece of art that you photographed?
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YuengLinger

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Re: Public art/sculptures and selling photos
« Reply #6 on: May 07, 2017, 08:39:45 AM »
Personal opinion:  Photos of other people's copyrighted art as the main subject, when not used for documentary purpose, are effectively plagiarism or open theft of creative work, especially if the artist has not been offered a piece of the action (profit).

In the cases I see in the OP's link, I'd say that is exploitive.  Legally, I'm not sure, but from a creative standpoint, deserving derision.

When it comes to reproductions of past masters' works, no pretense of creativity exists.  A coffee table book of Impressionists' paintings, for example, is an instructive collection, and the buyer of the book is paying for the education and the convenience of enjoying a small version of the works at home. 

But to take a "creative" photo of a statue, apply a filter, odd angles, lighting, whatever, and the claim it to be an original idea, a new work, very sad indeed.

Then there are photos where a recognizable work is a background or accent to a portrait or landscape...Case by case basis, but usually, if the work is to establish location or used as a symbol relevant to the subject or message of the work, inclusion is acceptable.

All my opinion, nothing more.




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Re: Public art/sculptures and selling photos
« Reply #6 on: May 07, 2017, 08:39:45 AM »

Chisox2335

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Re: Public art/sculptures and selling photos
« Reply #7 on: May 07, 2017, 09:40:20 AM »
How is this different from photographing the Eiffil tower? Statue of Liberty?

Why is it different from photographing the Golden Gate Bridge clearly designed as a piece of art and function? The Sydney opera house?

Only difference I see is photographing something lesser known vs very well known. 

LDS

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Re: Public art/sculptures and selling photos
« Reply #8 on: May 07, 2017, 12:47:34 PM »
How is this different from photographing the Eiffil tower? Statue of Liberty?
Why is it different from photographing the Golden Gate Bridge clearly designed as a piece of art and function? The Sydney opera house?
Only difference I see is photographing something lesser known vs very well known.

It's a very complex matt3er, and different countries may have very different laws. For example, in Italy, State owned buildings cannot be reproduced for profit unless you have a permission, or the owner (which could be a city, province, etc.), waived the rights.

It became an funny issue a few months ago, when the Region of Lombardy (Italy) together one of the train companies, launched a photo contest, the subject had to be one of the UNESCO heritage sites in Lombardy. Just, some of them (i.e. the archeological sites in their list) are state-owned properties, and it's forbidden to take photos but for personal use without a permission (the contest required to transfer the rights to organizers for commercial use). When I contacted the organizer and the sites administrators asking for a clarification (was I permitted to take photos and use them in the contest?), both of them were taken by surprise - and nobody ever gave me a definitive answer... :D Guess the organizer didn't know the rules too, and never thought to ask the sites.
« Last Edit: May 07, 2017, 02:02:09 PM by LDS »

YuengLinger

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Re: Public art/sculptures and selling photos
« Reply #9 on: May 07, 2017, 01:57:34 PM »
How is this different from photographing the Eiffil tower? Statue of Liberty?

Why is it different from photographing the Golden Gate Bridge clearly designed as a piece of art and function? The Sydney opera house?

Only difference I see is photographing something lesser known vs very well known.

With time and familiarity, the Eifel tower has become an icon, symbolic of Paris, France, even Europe for some.  Still, the City of Paris has asserted usage rights.  The Golden Gate Bridge was not conceived as a work of art primarily, but as a civil engineering project for transportation.  Perhaps the Statue of Liberty is effectively in the public domain, I don't know the law.  Are businesses allowed to make and sell little copies of it for profit, or does some branch of the US Federal government hold usage rights?  I don't know.

A sculpture or a painting is a purely creative project, often intended to be sold either for profit or compensation to allow the artist to continue working.  Sometimes art is donated, but if the donation includes usage rights, then whoever holds those rights is entitled to compensation.

How is a sculpture or a painting different from a novel?  Why not just photograph the individual pages of a novel, format the images, print them, and sell the novel? 

Photographers want copyright protection, so they should recognize the efforts and rights of other artists.
« Last Edit: May 07, 2017, 02:01:14 PM by YuengLinger »

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Re: Public art/sculptures and selling photos
« Reply #9 on: May 07, 2017, 01:57:34 PM »