|Dear Madeline, Kim, and Katie,
Thank you for contacting us to ask about explaining copyright and the use
of art images to kids. Even explaining this to adults is hard. We very
much enjoyed your previous web site and would be glad to help you with
your current project.
I think you will find that most museums will be glad to give you permission
to use material from their sites for educational purposes and to link to
their sites. They usually have an office called the "Rights and Reproductions
Office" which is responsible for approving such requests. They charge a
fee for commercial users, because commercial users are making money by
using the images from the museum, but they give often educational users
free rights. If the museum has the rights.
But copyright is complicated. The museum does not own the copyright, just
because it owns the painting or sculpture. The artist owns the copyright
when the work is created, and unless she gives the copyright to the museum,
she still owns it. This is one way artists make money in order to be able
to afford to keep being artists.
Artists are busy making art, so they can't collect a little bit of money
from each person who uses their images. Therefore, they join a group called
a "rights society" to do that for them. In the United States, they may
join the Artist Rights Society (www.ars-ny.com) for example. There
are many rights societies for different kinds of artists. For example,
singers and songwriters are represented by ASCAP. Each of these organizations
collects a little money from everyone who uses a copyright work and gives
some of that money to the creators of the work (they keep some to pay the
cost of collecting the money).
So, you see, the museums may not always be allowed to give you the right
to use images on their site. They may be paying the artists, or the rights
society, for the copyright. In that case they will send you to the artist
or her representative.
We hope that millions of kids will want to use images from museums and
that they will all understand that they need to have the right to do so.
But this creates a problem for museums - who will answer all your millions
of letters and e-mails? In order to reduce the amount of time that the
museum staff would need to devote to answering all your requests for educational
use of images, some art museums in the United States and Canada formed
the Art Museum Image Consortium (AMICO). AMICO brings all the images the
museums can give it together in one place and publishes them in the AMICO
Library. Your school library and public library can subscribe to AMICO
and this allows you and your teachers to use all the images in the AMICO
Library for educational purposes without having to ask each museum, for
each image, each time you use it.
AMICO is only two years old. The AMICO Library with 50,000 works of art
only became available this summer. AMICO now has 28 member museums. We
hope that in a few years, AMICO will have many more museum members from
all over the world and that the AMICO Library will have hundreds of thousands,
or even millions, of images that schools and universities can use without
asking for any further rights. This way the museums can give all students
the ability to use images legally, but they don't have to hire hundreds
of new people to work in their Rights and Reproductions Office.
|I hope this makes sense to you. Feel free to write me
if we can explain more about copyright or AMICO.
Dear Madeline, Kim, and Katie,
I'm glad my reply raised so many more questions. Isn't it funny sometimes
that the more you know about something, the more there is to learn? You
may use my e-mail replies on your web site, or quote from them if parts
seem to you to be more appropriate.
Thank you for asking.
Are all of the images you have at AIMCO in digital form?
* Yes, they are. Each museum makes digital images and text describing its
works and sends these to AMICO. Making digital images of art can be very
hard. A professional photographer, a museum curator, and 'art handlers',
people who move the art inside museums, need to schedule a day to bring
the art from storage to a studio. They need to get the lighting just right
and then they take a picture which is developed in a very large negative
(at least 4" x 5", often 8" x 10" or more). Usually they take the picture
with a color bar and a measuring stick in the image so that later they
will be able to correct the color. This negative is then digitized with
special scanners. The curator and photographer may then have to crop the
color bar and other things out of the picture and adjust the color and
light to get the best possible picture. In all, it takes several people
and an hour or more before the museum has just the digital file it wants
to use for future printing and copying. This is what they send to AMICO
as an uncompressed 'tif' format file. When you use AMICO, you may see jpeg
files that we have made from the tif. Some are small (thumbnails, like
the ones on the www.amico.org site, and some fill your whole monitor (1024x768
pixels, in 24 bit color). AMICO has many digital files of each work of
art, all used for different purposes.
|Has the use of the internet increased the number of
requests for permission that museums get for images?
* The Internet probably has increased the number of requests for images
that museums receive from people who are not in the businesses which use
images regularly such as publishers, advertisers, and scholars. These people
use the same number of images as before, although they may now ask for
permission by e-mail since its quicker to get a reply. People who didn't
use images before, such as school students, may only learn that images
are available when they search on the Web, so they are now asking when
they would not have before.
Did AMICO start because of the internet?
* The Internet has existed for quite a long time, but it only became important
to museums when you were in Kindergarten and Tim Berniers-Lee invented
the http protocol which is the basis for the World Wide Web. Before that
the Internet was used for file transfer and e-mail but not for linking
pictures and it wasn't very popular. Since 1994, use of the Web has increased
use of the Internet.
AMICO came about both because so many people can now use web browsers to
access images and because digital images are so easy to copy. Because digital
images can be copied by computers, and so many people could use them at
the same time, museums, artists, and others who own images, were
asked by big companies to sell them rights. The big companies wanted to
own these rights forever. The museums were afraid that if they sold the
rights to these companies, then students and visitors to the museums would
not be allowed to see the images without paying the companies and that
this would be unfair. So they organized AMICO to make sure that educational
rights would be available, even if other image rights, for commercial use,
were sold to companies which bought images.
|If a school gets a subscription to use AMICO's images,
and they put the pictures on a website, does the school have to pay for
a new subscription every year that the website is on the internet?
* The AMICO subscription is an annual one, because each year AMICO adds
more works of art to the Library. In 2000, we will add about 25,000 new
works and lots of information about other art that was in this year's Library.
Our plan is that by the time you are in High School, we will have over
a million works of art from museums around the world for you to study.
Because AMICO is a non-profit organization, which means that it does not
need to make more money than it costs us to create the AMICO Library, we
hope that we can make the Library cheaper each year even though it will
grow bigger, because more schools will subscribe.
But the subscription (which is a license, just like a software license),
does not allow you to put AMICO images on the public web, only on an "intranet"
website that is available to other students in your school. The license
is designed to allow certain users (such as students, teachers, tutors,
and parents) to make specific educational uses (such as printing out, putting
in school reports, projecting on a screen in your classroom, etc.).
The license covers more than images; it includes all the information, including
texts describing works of art, interviews with artists, notebooks kept
by artists, audio tours by curators, and other kinds of multimedia.
It may be hard for you and your classmates to understand why the AMICO
license does not allow you to put images on your public website. Let me
try to explain. The museums wanted to have the biggest and best images
they own available in the AMICO Library so that college students and scholars
could study lots of details about each work of art. They do not put these
images on their own websites because they are afraid that the digital images
would be copied and used illegally. So when they give them to AMICO, they
require that we also restrict the use of the images just to subscribers
for educational uses. If you want to put a specific image on your public
website, you still need to ask the permission of the museum or artist.
Because the copyright owners have given us permission only to let you do
specific educational things with their data, and we can only give you permission
to those things.
| We would like to know if you have pictures of
the outsides of the museums or the insides in the form of a jpeg?
* Most museums have jpegs of the outsides and insides of their buildings.
AMICO only has images of works of art themselves. AMICO doesn't actually
have a museum building - we are only virtual. (Some days we receive mail
asking what our hours are and if people can come visit, but they can only
visit on the Web).
Is there a logo for AMICO that we should use to link to your website?
* There is an AMICO logo. Its the kind of logo called a wordmark because
it uses letters arranged in a way that is AMICO's trademark. We think
it would be nice to have it linked to your site if you would like that.
|We are going to ask our school or our library to see
if they will get a subscription to AMICO catalogue?
* We hope you do ask you school librarian about subscribing to AMICO. We
are currently working with a library network called NYLink which serves
all the school districts and public libraries in the State of New York
to see if we can make the AMICO Library available to every school in the
state. On February 1, Jennifer Trant and I will go to Albany to a meeting
of all the library consortia (groups of libraries) in New York to present
the AMICO Library to them. If they like it, we hope that by the time you
are in seventh grade you and everyone else in the state will have the full
AMICO Library to use in school, at home and in your public library. If
your school librarian wants to help, she can contact us.
|Did you know that AMICO has an FAQ (frequently asked
questions) page at http://www.amico.org/faq.html ?
It wasn't written specifically for kids, but it might answer some
other questions you have. Now that you are asking all these questions,
we are thinking that maybe we should have a special FAQ for kids
page. What do you think?