End fees for images of historic pictures in national museums
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"The fees charged by the UK’s national museums to reproduce images of historic paintings, prints and drawings are unjustified, and should be abolished. Such fees inhibit the dissemination of knowledge that is the very purpose of public museums and galleries. Fees charged for academic use pose a serious threat to art history: a single lecture can cost hundreds of pounds; a book, thousands.
Fees are also charged despite the fact that the artworks in question are not only publicly owned, but out of copyright (that is, made by artists who died more than 70 years ago). Museums claim they create a new copyright when making a faithful reproduction of a 2D artwork by photography or scanning, but it is doubtful that the law supports this. Museums' rules for using images are confusing and inconsistent, and do not raise meaningful funds once costs are taken into account. We urge the UK's public museums to follow the example of a growing number of international museums (such as Holland’s Rijksmuseum) and provide open access to images of publicly owned, out of copyright paintings, prints, and drawings so that they are free for the public to reproduce."
The following art historians and others signed the above letter which appeared in The Times newspaper, 6 November 2017. Please join them by adding your name to this petition.
- Hugh Belsey MBE, Senior Research Fellow, Paul Mellon Centre
Diana Dethloff FSA, University College London
Dr Rhoda Eitel-Porter, Editor, Print Quarterly
Professor Anthony Geraghty, University of York
Sir Nicholas Goodison FBA, FSA
Antony Griffiths FBA, Chairman, The Walpole Society
Dr Bendor Grosvenor
Michael Hall FSA, Editor, The Burlington Magazine
James Holloway CBE, former Director, Scottish National Portrait Gallery
Waldemar Januszczak, The Sunday Times
Professor Martin Kemp FBA, FRSE, University of Oxford
Alex Kidson, independent art historian
Michael Liversidge FSA, FRSA, Emeritus Dean, Faculty of Arts, Bristol University
Dr Matt Lodder, University of Essex
Dr Thomas Marks, Editor, Apollo
Dr Alexander Marr, FSA, FRHistS, University of Cambridge
Dr Dorothy Price FSA, University of Bristol, Editor, Art History
Dr Janina Ramirez, University of Oxford
Dr Jacqueline Riding, author and independent art historian
Dr Malcolm Rogers CBE FSA, Director Emeritus, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Pontus Rosén, CEO, Association for Art History
Professor Simon Schama CBE FRSL, Columbia University
Dr Katherine Schofield, King’s College London
Dr Robin Simon FSA, Editor, The British Art Journal
Professor David Solkin FBA, Courtauld Institute of Art
Dr Richard Stephens FSA
Dr Duncan Thomson, former Director, Scottish National Portrait Gallery
Professor Michael White, Head of History of Art, University of York
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