Another interesting conflict in the world of copyright and digital media.
The National Portrait Gallery [Great Britain] is threatening legal action after 3,300 images from its website were uploaded to online encyclopaedia Wikipedia.
A contributor to the popular site, Derrick Coetzee, breached English copyright laws by posting images from the gallery’s collection, the NPG said.
But photographs of works of art are not protected by copyright in the US, where Mr Coetzee and Wikipedia are based.
Of course these issues go beyond a simple my-rights, your-rights squabble.
The situation illustrates once again that the web freely crosses national borders (at least most of them) while intellectual property laws don’t.
So, should a publicly-funded museum in the UK have the right to prevent a US-based non-profit web site (fast becoming an international public utility) from using images of works that are already posted on the museum’s web site and carry no copyright restrictions outside of the country?
I doubt a definitive answer will be crafted anytime soon.