LIBR 598 -- March 1996

modified June 1996

links updated August 2001

Art, Copyright, and the Web Bibliography

compiled by Jeanette Mills and Cynthia Caci

(with assistance from Maryly Snow's and Janis Ekdahl's fair use and copyright bibliographies, which were handed out at the 1996 Visual Resources Association and ARLIS/NA conferences)

In searching for material on these three topics, we discovered that very little has been written on all of these subjects combined. So, much of what is cited below covers only one or two of these topics. The annotations should help in determining which resources are most appropriate to your interests.

Resources on the Web

Archives, Collections and Resources Demonstrated by Macie Hall at April 95 NII Meetings.
Macie Hall has been the VRA (see below under Copyright - Intellectual Property Rights - Fair Use) representative to the Conference on Fair Use (CONFU) meetings. This document provides links to sites that illustrate points about the variety of ways that images and artwork are being used on the Web. In several cases references are made to copyright notices and/or disclaimers.

This is the home page for a commercial service that sets up Web displays for artists and galleries. They also provide access to auction information and art market analysis. Some of their services are still in development; their database services require that the user be a subscriber.

Barlow, John Perry. "The Economy of Ideas: A framework for rethinking patents and copyrights in the Digital Age (Everything you know about intellectual property is wrong)." Wired 2.03 (March 1994).
A philosophical treatise on ideas and how we should deal with them in the current digital age. This work is widely quoted.

Brinson, J. Dianne and Mark F. Radcliffe. Intellectual Property Law Primer for Multimedia Developers.
Written by the lawyers who authored the Multimedia Law Handbook, this provides an overview of the materials found in that book. It summarizes copyright, patent, and trademark laws and explains how they affect the creation of multimedia works.

Copyright Act of 1976, as Amended (1994).
This is the full text of the law, which is provided by the Legal Information Institute of the Cornell Law School. The site has text search capabilities.

Copyright Information Page.
Produced by the University of Michigan, this home page provides links to the text of the U.S. copyright law, other copyright Web sites, articles that can help determine whether or not permission needs to be requested when using a resource, how to request permission, how to register a work for copyright, and sources for public domain and royalty-free materials.

Copyright - Intellectual Property Rights - Fair Use.
This page is produced by the Visual Resources Association (VRA), the international organization for slide librarians and other visual resources curators. It provides links to a number of documents, including reports by the VRA representatives to the Conference on Fair Use (CONFU) meetings.

The Copyright Website.
This is the most extensive copyright information site that we found. It provides hot links to copyright fundamentals, copyright registration, famous copyright infringements, bleeding edge internet issues, fair use, public domain materials, and other documents on copyright. The only part that is specific to art is under copyright infringements, where reference is made to two recent court cases involving copyright. One is about a sculpture used in the film Batman Forever and the other involves artist Robert Rauschenberg.

This is the website for the other Bill Gates company. It includes around 3000 images from the huge archive of digital images that the company is compiling. Note that when you first try to access the images you are immediately given the option of agreeing or disagreeing with their request that material on their site only be used for personal, non-commercial purposes. If you disagree, you are given a copyright and intellectual property FAQ document; you must agree in order to see any images.

Digital Future Coalition.
This coalition of at least 27 different organizations was just founded in September 1995 to encourage a sensible approach to legislation that will affect digital copyright. In particular, they are trying to counteract the NII White Paper's nearly complete negation of fair use. The site contains updates on legislation stemming from the White Paper, information on the member organizations (including links, where they exist), statements and press releases, and other useful information.

Harper, Georgia. Copyright and Image Management.
A site produced by one of the lawyers in the Office of General Counsel for the University of Texas System. It addresses a number of the issues related to image collections. A related site is the more general "Crash Course in Copyright" page at

Intellectual Property: An Association of Research Libraries Statement of Principles.
A brief statement and list of seven principles, with annotations, that was adopted by the ARL membership in May 1994. It is meant to affirm "the rights and responsibilities of the research library community in the area of copyright."

Intellectual Property and the National Information Infrastructure: The Report of the Working Group on Intellectual Property Rights.
The home page for the NII White Paper, the document that makes recommendations for copyright law changes that will affect use of a variety of materials on the Web. The home page provides links to the document itself, an executive summary, and statements by Bruce Lehman, the chair of the working group.

Lutzker, Arnold P., Esq. Commerce Department's White Paper on National and Global Information Infrastructure: Executive Summary for the Library and Educational Community.
A summary of the NII White Paper, which was requested by the Association of Research Libraries, the American Library Association, the American Association of Law Libraries, the Medical Library Association, and the Special Libraries Association. Lutzker has provided commentary and analysis on each major section of the White Paper.

McLaughlin, Margaret L. "The Art Site on the World Wide Web." Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication 1(4).
A lengthy article that reports on a study of art galleries on Web. The author, a professor at the Annenberg School for Communication at USC, provides statistics and analyzes the development and current state of galleries. She also has an extensive (72 references) bibliography.

Fair Use Guidelines for Educational Multimedia and Related Documents and Links.
Contains basic information on the current attempt to develop multimedia fair use guidelines.

Samuelson, Pamela. "The Copyright Grab." Wired 4.01 (January 1996).
An excellent analysis of the NII White Paper and how its recommendations promote commercial interests on the Web while restricting fair use of digital materials to the point of virtual non-existence. Ms. Samuelson is a visiting professor of law at Cornell Law School and a Fellow of the Electronic Frontier Foundation. She also includes information on how to get involved in the debate about the NII White Paper.

10 Big Myths about copyright explained.
This page is written by an electronic publisher, so there are some biases in favor of publishers. But, it still provides some good basic answers to commonly asked questions related to copyright, fair use, and public domain materials.

Resources in Print

Atkins, Robert. "The Art World & I Go On Line." Art in America 83(12) (December 1995): 58-65+
In the format of a personal journal, Atkins describes his initiation into cyberspace while bringing to light the various manifestations that electronic media has engendered in the world of artists, museums, galleries, and audiences. Noting both the successes as well as the failures, the author links this embrace of the internet with the current ascendancy of conceptualist and neoconceptualist approaches to art.

Crews, Kenneth D. Copyright, Fair Use and the Challenge for Universities. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1990.
Written from the perspective of an educator, the author sets out to provide a complete overview of the tensions existing between copyright regulation and the concept of fair use as it applies to institutions of higher education. While not an instruction manual in the application or definition of fair use, Crews' study serves to present the complexities of his subject in an objective manner. His final chapter, "Building for the Future," is a call to arms for those in higher education to play a more definitive and active role in shaping fair use guidelines that can extend to technological advances.

Hodder, Ian. "Art, Computers and Copyrights." Artifact November/December 1995: 35-6. [Magazine was published in Kent, WA, from 1995-1997. The University of Washington Libraries owns copies.]
Current copyright issues, as affected by digital reproductions and electronic distribution, are addressed through varying perspectives: an artist, a gallery owner, and an artist representative. While current technology does not worry these players (due to low-grade resolution), advances made in reproduction quality will change the field. Copyright infringement through electronic media remains difficult to police.

Jensen, Timothy S., Esq. VLA Guide to Copyright for Visual Artists. New York: Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts, 1987.
Published by a not-for-profit organization that provides free legal assistance and legal education to the arts community, this guide focuses on the essential point of copyright regulation in a question-and-answer format. Forms for registering for copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office are included.

Kerber, Ross. "Vigilant Copyright Holders Patrol the Internet." Wall Street Journal December 13, 1995: B1,6.
While copyright infringement is difficult to detect and trace on the Internet, several instances (some resulting in litigation) are examined in this article. From images of Elvis to A.A. Milne's Winnie the Pooh, unauthorized use and reproduction of visual imagery on the Web is beginning to garner attention from publishers and other rights holders. At stake in a majority of these cases is lost revenue. Publishers are especially concerened about the alterability of digitized information, making it dificult for users to assess the authenticity of material found on the Internet.

Lawrence, John and Bernard Timberg, editors. Fair Use and Free Inquiry: Copyright Law and the New Media. New Jersey: Ablex Publishing Corporation, 1989.
The contributors to this collection of essays explore the issues surrounding the "new" mass media and their uses in teaching and published scholarship. Fair use and its application serve as a point of departure in each essay, investigating a variety of forms (film, music, advertising, broadcasting, and visual images) in which copyright regulation applies. "Copyright Law and the Fair Use of Visual Images" by Harriet Oler and Marilyn Kretsinger is especially helpful as an introduction to the 1976 Copyright Law, including its underlying philosophy and history. Another essay, "A Modernized Fair Use Code for Visual, Auditory, and Audiovisual Copyrights...", by Sigmund Timberg critiques the problems of a literary based copyright law being applied to visual materials. The author also provides suggested text for more appropriate fair use guidelines. Chapter six, "Other People's Images: A Case History," chapter fourteen, "The Duplication of Audiovisual Materials in Libraries," and chapter sixteen, "New Forms of Media and the Challenge to Copyright Law" also contain information applicable to reproductions of artworks.

Lyman, Peter. "Copyright and Fair Use in the Digital Age." Educom Review 30(1) (January/February 1995): 33-5.
The author, who chairs Educom's Committee on Copyright and Fair Use, calls into question the ability of current copyright law to effectively address the multitude of issues brough forth by technological advances, including the extension of fair use to networked environments. He ends with a challenge to higher education to participate more actively in policy discussion at the national level to ensure that its stake in the transmission and consumption of knowledge is protected.

Madoff, Steven Henry. "Art in Cyberspace: Can It Live without a Body?" New York Times January 21, 1996: (Arts & Leisure) 1, 34-5.
This article, in addition to providing a lengthy list of quality Web art sites, presents both sides of the argument for the role that digital technolgy can and will play in the contemporary art world. While some view cyberspace as a threat to the singular experiential relationship of viewer and object, others welcome its ability to demystify and deregulate the visual arts, providing accessibility to a logarithmically-expanding audience.

Merryman, John Henry and Albert E. Elsen. Law, Ethics, and the Visual Arts. 2nd ed. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1987.
In volume one, from pages 175 to 213, there is a detailed discussion of copyright law as it relates to artworks. Several examples of case law are provided.

Pinchbeck, Daniel. "State of the Art." Wired 2.12 (December 1994): 206-8.
The author provides an overview of the economic and cultural impact of digital technology in the contemporary art world, drawing parallels to the positive relationship of science and the fine arts in Renaissance Italy. Digitized images on the Internet can circumvent the gallery system, calling into question once again (as had happened in the 1970s) the idea of art as a "precious object," endowed with intrinsic qualities of craftsmanship and immutability.

Powell, Cory S. "The Rights Stuff." Scientific American 272(1) (January 1995): 30-1.
The economic implications of the digitization of works of art are explored in this article. In addition, the brief history of the uneasy relationship between the museum world and the electronic industry is discussed, including the early attempts by Bill Gates to gain exclusive digital rights from numerous major museums of fine art. Interviews with the directors of the Museum of the Art Institute of Chicago and the Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C., reveal a common concern among those in the art world: the issue of control over reproductions of works in their collections and the ease with which images can be altered in a digitized format.

"Royalties, Fair Use & Copyright in the Electronic Age." Educom Review 30(6) (November/December 1995): 30-5.
In this interview, Bruce A. Lehman, chair of the Working Group on Intellectual Property Rights (the creators of the NII White Paper), Assistant Secretary of Commerce, and Commissioner of Patents and Trademarks, discusses the appropriateness of current copyright regulations to electronic media, the necessity for copyright, and the scope of fair use. The idea that information should be free is also addressed.

"Visual Artists Rights Act of 1990." Public Law 101-650, section 601+. and "Architectural Works Copyright Protection Act." Public Law 101-650, section 701+. United States Code Congressional and Administrative News, 101st Congress - Second Session, vol. 4. St. Paul: West Publishing Co., 1990.
The text of two recent laws. One improves the rights of visual artists over and above copyright. The other more clearly defines copyright as it applies to architecture.

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