Copyright of Art

I am in a natural methods in communication class right now and we have a research project due at the end of the semester dealing with an online community and looking into it from and ethnographic position. The website we are dealing with currently is This site has a somewhat new feature entitled Commons. This is for international museums and school libraries to post images that have expired copyright. The point of this site is to allow people to see art on their own time and also comment on the them and make conversation.
is another site that shows professional photos and has room to comment. These comments are one word tags about the piece of art on the screen. The purpose of this site is to build an art community and help people be exposed to art in museums that may not be near them.

I feel that these sites are doing something good and making art more democratized and easier for people to see if not near a major museum. The only thing I worry about is how they take photos from people who have died years ago, and how people can easily take credit for tagging and describing them since the copyright is expired. I wonder if sites like this foster the “greased” internet information concept we learned about form our text. Sure these pictures are easily accessible but now they are easier to distribute too since all it takes is a simple clip to copy and save an image.

I am in support of a art for the people but my main concern is that people can take this art and make it their own through tags and stealing pictures and trying to get by the fact the copyright has expired.


3 thoughts on “Copyright of Art

  1. If you’re concerned about that…
    What about those street vendors in Europe who peddle reproductions of great works of art on street corners to tourists? Surely they are not authentic, but they are reproductions of the original work and sure, sometimes, the artist will be credited when its on a postcard, but when I purchased a poster of the Birth of Venus, there was no indication of who the artist was whatsoever. But maybe its because that particular piece of art is so well known that something like that can be skimmed over, but I don’t know… what do you think?

    But yeah, I do feel for you that people can easily rip off someone’s work for their own, but I mean, this occurs in other aspects of life as well, doesn’t it?

  2. This site sounds like it has great intentions. It’s definitely necessary for a community to be built around art. Expanding this is crucial to art survival and continued appreciation for it. This is great for those who can’t get to Art museums, but it definitely take from the experience of being in the presence of a great work of art. I’m not quite sure if random people take photos of art pieces (which usually isn’t permitted in museums) and then they post them up? If so, I see a problem with this. I feel that is someone is posting something like this, they need to give credit where it’s owed. Obviously the artists of the Mona Lisa or A Sunday on La Grande Jatte cannot be claimed as another’s, even though the copyright is up. These works are so well- known that they are essentially seen everywhere.

    Also, with the easily taking the photos, I know there is a way to “lock” a photo onto the site so it can’t be copied.
    So I guess the problem would have to be, are people making money off of posting these photos? A problem would arise if some of he works of art not that well known are being tagged by someone else’s as their own.

  3. I think these websites are great for people interested in browsing through famous artwork without having to actually make a trip to the museum. The problem I see with these sites are that they make it difficult for new artist to get their name out there without potentially running into people who enjoy stealing peoples artwork. Like mentioned above it is impossible for someone to post a picture of the Mona Lisa or Michelangelo David and pass it off as their own, but what happens when an art student spends months creating a portrait and someone else post it on this site as their own? If I were the artist I know I would be devastated. In general, I think sites like these are great for people interested in seeing well known artist artwork because credit has already been given to the original creator and not to scam artist who get a kick out of using copyright expiration laws to steal other peoples work and pass it off as their own.

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