Digitized museum collections and intellectual property

Researchers at the New York Law School are working on a whitepaper that addresses the intersection of digitized museum collections and the law. From the project site:

The Digital Museums Project is dedicated to the examination of legal and policy issues relating to the digitized activity of museums. The members of this project will produce a whitepaper analyzing the current digitized cultural property models under different systems of law. The research will mainly cover the intellectual property issues raised by digitizing museum collections. Team members also intend to consider attitudes towards distribution and reproduction of content, public access rights, artist rights, digital rights management schemes, business & technology models, licensing models and digital cultural heritage. Special attention will be given to the effect these issues have on developing countries. This analysis will focus on shaping the legal rights and duties that accompany the current digitized cultural property models and the team will propose alternatives to these models, if necessary. The primary component of the research will be satisfied through networking with members of the art and law community. Supporting research will be completed through examination of legal doctrine.

The site also includes a questionnaire the research team will be using in its interviews of professional in the fields of art and law.

This is definitely a valuable project worth keeping track of.


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  2. lamusediffuse says:

    Thanks, Leslie, for letting us know about this very interesting project. In fact we recently posted something related in our article “Providing “Free” Digital Images to Scholars: Met, ARTstor and Accessibility to Online Art Collections.” Your post is really adding a step more!

    Thanks also for your articles. We really enjoy them.

  3. Leslie, might you know if intellectual property pertains to museum programming. That is to say, if a museum develops a program around a first person character, does the person portraying that character, have the right to take it to another venue? To another museum, theatre, community center? I am currently involved in such a situation and feel we need to protect this historical character. Is this a copyright, trademark issue?

    Many thanks,
    Elaine Hayes

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