Catalogue Image Restrictions

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Catalogue Image Restrictions

Postby Traintime » Sun Mar 21, 2021 3:29 pm

I was recently gifted a copy of the 1989 Christie's catalog from the sale of "The Sam Wagstaff Collection of American Silver" (& select silverplate). I see catalogs all the time, but this one may hold photos that could be useful to supplement some of the entries on this site. The auction house had a copyright mark back then, but it seems like that may have fallen off by now over thirty years later. Are we safe to use images...don't want to get the management into any trouble here.

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Re: Catalogue Image Restrictions

Postby AG2012 » Sun Mar 21, 2021 4:06 pm

I think what we do here is similar to discussions in papers (scientific) with well established and accepted quoting, paraphrasing and summarizing.
Even well known commercial websites allow quoting and images from publications to support their claims of authenticity. It happens too often to be an aberration and websites management must be aware of the practice.

This example follows the format of an exhibition catalog but lists the auction house as the author as per the guidelines for works published by an organization, corporation, or institution.

Sotheby's New York. Important Jewels. New York: Sotheby's, 2007. Auction catalog.

In short, I suppose everything is fine if the source is quoted.

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Location: Berlin, Germany

Re: Catalogue Image Restrictions

Postby Bahner » Mon Mar 22, 2021 3:45 am

Hello, don't know about the US, but in Germany the situation is much more complex. Quoting a text is mostly no problem. Even if one quotes a commercial slogan which has a copyright on it the owner of the copyright usually considers this a form af free advertising and is not opposed to this. He may ask for a fee, if he had the text registered with the so called VG Wort before publication. He will not ask for a fee if quoting is done in anobvious educational or scientific context, even if the quote is quite long. If quoting is done in a possibly commercial context, he may ask for a fee. It depends on the circumstances and may involve a longish trial. So it is very rarely done. With photographs it is quite different. Antiquarian dealers or auction houses may show photos of objects they are currently offering without getting the OK first. Conditions: it must be in direct connection with a sale and the object shown must be shown unaltered (meaning: if you show e.g. an oil painting it must be shown with the rims uncut. Cutting it because it looks better in the catalogue is an infringement of coypright, if the copyright owner did not agree with this first). If there still is a copyright on the object (which implies the artist is either still alive or dead less than 70 years) it may be that the copyright owners have it registered with the VG BIld, in which case the acution house has to pay a fee for the publication rights to said VG BIld, of which a major part is forwarded to the copyright owners. Generally there are three kinds of copyright to be considered with a photo. Copyright of the designer of the object shown (does expire 70 years after the death of the designer). Copyright of the photographer who took the pic of the object (does expire 70 years after the death of the photographer). Copyright of the auction house which may have paid the photographer to take the pic. If this took place more than 70 years ago but the auction house is still active, they still may have the copyright on this very pic. Using the pic for commercial, educational or scientific purposes without checking the copyright situation first may result in an infringement of coypright laws. There is no general copyright exception for educational or scientific purposes. A legal and polite way would be simply to ask for a free publication right first, usually the copyright holders agree if they are mentioned as the coypright holders and if the educational or scientific context is obvious. The internet has drastically changed attitude towards copyrights but not so much the legal situation. In many many cases people just dont care about other people's copyright and do not even bother to ask nicely. Just because disregarding copyright happens so often does not make it better or legal. Did I say this is a complex issue ? Oh yeah, I did. Regards, Bahner

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