In July 2009, lawyers Representing the National Portrait Gallery of London (NPG) feels an email letter warning of possible to Legal Action for Alleged copyright infringement to Derrick Coetzee, an editor / administrator of the free happy multimedia repository Wikimedia Commons , hosted by the Wikimedia Foundation .

NPG claims

The letter stated that Coetzee had downloaded more than 3,300 high-resolution images from the British National Portrait Gallery’s database of images and in March 2009 had posted them on Wikimedia Commons. [1] [2] [3]

[8] The NPG aussi Stated que le public availability of the pictures Would returned affect Acquired from licensing the image to third parties returned aussi used to fund the project of digitizing Their collection, [7] an attempt que la NPG claims cost the organization Over £ 1,000,000. [1] The NPG had requested a response by 20 July 2009 from Coetzee, and also requested that the pictures be removed from the site, but noted that the NPG was not considered any legal action against the Wikimedia Foundation. [2] [3] The NPG announced that Coetzee had responded via its legal representative by the requested deadline. [4] [9] Coetzee ‘ S legal representation was provided by the Electronic Frontier Foundation . [2] [10]

Coetzee publicly posted a copy of the legal letter from the NPG, indicating that he would “allow public discourse on the issue”. [1] On July 17, 2009, NPG gallery spokesperson, Eleanor Macnair, stated that “contact has now been made” with the Wikimedia Foundation and “we will hopefully have a dialogue will be possible.” [2] The NPG has stated that it would be willing to allow Wikipedia to use low-resolution images, and that it hoped to avoid taking any further legal action. [1] The NPG had previously attempted to contact the Wikimedia Foundation in April 2009 regarding this issue, but did not receive an immediate response. [1]

The British Association of Picture Libraries and Agencies (BAPLA), an image industry trade group. [5]

In early 2010, an NPG spokesperson reported to Heise Open, a division of German publishing house Heinz Heise , “We had a constructive discussion in December and are now considering how best to come to an agreement.” [11] In November 2010, Tom Morgan, Head of Rights and Reproductions at the National Portrait Gallery has Addressed Conference Attended by Both Wikipedians and Representatives of cultural institutions. Morgan’s presentation was entitled “Wikipedia and the National Portrait Gallery – A bad first date? [12]


The 1999 United States District Court box Bridgeman Art Library v. Corel Corp. (In which Bridgeman Art Library sued the Corel Corporation for copyright infringement for distributing copies of digital reproductions of public domain paintings sourced from Bridgeman on a CD-ROM). exact as science and technology allowded lacks originality . That is not to say That Such a feat is trivial, simply not original. ” [13] As a result, reproductions of works that have fallen into the public domain can not attract any new copyright in the United States. [13] As such, Local policies of the Wikimedia Commons web site Ignore any potential copyright that could subsist in reproductions of public domain works. [5] However, British box law can take into account the amount of skill and labor that takes place in the creation of a work for considering whether it can be copyrighted in that country. [5]

The letter from the National Portrait Gallery, however, should be heard in the UK under UK law and not in the US under US law. The National Portrait Gallery is located in England, but Wikimedia Commons, and the uploader, are both within the United States. The letter claims aussi That by making the pictures freely disponible Wikimedia Commons, Coetzee aussi Would be liable under the British Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 for Any copyright infringement committed by other users Who download and use the images. [1] [8]


Response by the Wikimedia Foundation

Erik Möller , deputy director of the Wikimedia Foundation, made a statement on the issue, clarifying the stance of the Wikimedia Foundation on the incident. [6] [14] Möller stated that although the NPG has agreed that the images are in the public domain, the NPG had contended that they have the exclusive rights to their reproductions of the images, using this to monetize their collection and assert control over Public domain content. [14]Möller also stated “It is a very good argument to exclude public domain content from a free, non-profit encyclopaedia service.” [6] Möller further de the agreement that other cultural institutions have made with Wikipedia to disseminate images: Two German photographic archives donated 350,000 copyrighted images, and other institutions in the United States and the UK have made material available for use. [6] The NPG stated that the images released by the German archives were medium resolution images, and that the NPG had offered to share images of the same quality. [6]

A reporter for the BBC stated that the NPG made a total of £ 339,000 from licensing images for use in traditional publications in 2008. [6]

Response by the EFF

Fred von Lohmann, an attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). [15] In a legal analysis, Lohmann contended That under US law, the NPG’s ” browse wrap ” contract was not enforceable, database rights are not implemented at all, and That “using Zoomify clarification needed ] is public domain images does not Get you a DMCA claim. ” [16] Lohmann also observed:

NPG seems to think that UK law should apply everywhere on the Internet. If that’s right, then the same could be said for other, more restrictive copyright laws, as well (see, eg, Mexico’s copyright term of life of the author plus 100 years and France’s copyright over fashion designs). That would leave the world at the mercy of the worst that foreign copyright laws have to offer, an outcome no short has ever endorsed.

– Fred von Lohmann [16]

Change in licensing

In 2012, the National Portrait Gallery licensed 53,000 low-resolution images under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives license , [17] [18] making them available for non-commercial use. A further 87,000 high-resolution images are available for academic use under the Gallery’s own license that invite donations in return; Previously, the Gallery charged for high-resolution images. [19]

As of 2012 , 100,000 images, around a third of the Gallery’s collection had been digitized. [19]

In November 2015, the Intellectual Property Office of the European Court of Justice , “the author’s own intellectual creation, Given this criteria, it seems unlikely that what is merely a retouched, digitised image of an older work can be considered as ‘original’. ” [20]

See also

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Images from the National Portrait Gallery, London .
  • Copyright law of the United Kingdom
  • Copyright law of the United States
  • LICRA v. Yahoo! , A French court case involving the submission of a US-based web site to French law
  • Bridgeman Art Library c. Corel Corp. , Decision on the status of reproductions of public-domain images in the US


  1. ^ Jump up to:f “Gallery in Wikipedia legal threat” . BBC News . British Broadcasting Corporation. 15 July 2009 . Retrieved 27 July2009 .
  2. ^ Jump up to:e Cohen, Noam (19 July 2009). “Wikipedia May Be a Font of Facts, but It’s a Desert for Photos” . New York Times . Retrieved 28 July 2009 .
  3. ^ Jump up to:c Kennedy, Maev (14 July 2009). “Legal row over National Portrait Gallery images on Wikipedia” . The Guardian . Retrieved 28 July 2009 .
  4. ^ Jump up to:c “Wikipedia vs. Gallery: The Line is Crossed” . Artnet News . Artnet Worldwide Corporation. 21 July 2009 . Retrieved 27 July 2009 .
  5. ^ Jump up to:d “NPG and BAPLA at war with Wikipedia” . British Journal of Photography. 22 July 2009. Archived from the original on 5 August 2009 . Retrieved 1 August 2009 .
  6. ^ Jump up to:f Cellan-Jones, Rory (July 17, 2009). “Wikipedia painting row escalates” . BBC News . British Broadcasting Corporation . Retrieved 28 July 2009 .
  7. ^ Jump up to:b King, Leo (16 July 2009). “UK National Portrait Gallery in legal fight with Wikipedia” . Computerworld . Retrieved 28 July 2009 .
  8. ^ Jump up to:b Orlowski, Andrew (13 July 2009). “National Portrait Gallery bitchslaps Wikipedia” . The Register . Retrieved 27 July 2009 .
  9. Jump up^ Cheesman, Chris (July 21, 2009). “Wikipedia man beats gallery’s legal threat deadline (update 21 July)” . Amateur Photographer . Retrieved 31 August 2015 .
  10. Jump up^ Andrews, Robert (16 July 2009). “Gallery Threatens To Sue Wikimedia Admin Over Portrait Uploads” . Reuters UK . Retrieved 28 July 2009 . Dead link ]
  11. Jump up^ Kleinz, Torsten (2 February 2010). “UK museums open up to Wikimedia” . Heinz Heise . Retrieved 3 February 2010 .
  12. Jump up^ Wikimedia UK blog post, “GLAM-WIKI Schedule Announced”, 14 November 2010. Accessed 28 November 2010
  13. ^ Jump up to:b Filler, Stephen C. (9 December 2006). “Copyright Protection and Subject Matter in Photographs” . Archived from the original on 9 December 2006.
  14. ^ Jump up to:b Möller, Erik (16 July 2009). “Protecting the public domain and sharing our cultural heritage” . Wikimedia Foundation . Retrieved 28 July 2009 .
  15. Jump up^ Davis, Wendy (July 21, 2009). “Art Museum Threatens Lawsuit Over Public Domain Gallery Images Uploaded To Wikipedia” . Mediapost . Retrieved 3 August 2009 .
  16. ^ Jump up to:b von Lohmann, Fred (3 August 2009). “EFF Defends Wikipedian’s Right to the Public Domain” . Electronic Frontier Foundation . Retrieved 4 August 2009 .
  17. Jump up^ “Use this image” . Retrieved 14 December 2013 .
  18. Jump up^ “NPG changes image licensing to allow free downloads” . Retrieved 14 December 2013 .
  19. ^ Jump up to:b Atkinson, Rebecca (22 August 2012). “NPG changes image licensing to allow free downloads” . Museums Journal . Retrieved 21 May 2013 .
  20. Jump up^ “Copyright Notice: digital images, photographs and the internet”(PDF) . UK IPO . Retrieved 12 December 2015 .

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