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On what legal grounds do museums forbid visitors to make photos of exhibited artifacts (other than the destructive effect of flash light)? And who owns the copyrights of pics made nonetheless?
Jona had some interesting comments on this here.
I think I would now rephrase that a bit: the Vatican's decision is of course not illegal. Yet, the issue is that a private museum can always forbid anything it wants to; and this is debatable for a state-funded museum, as you (being a citizen) are technically the owner of those objects. Copyright is, in any case, not the issue, as the artists are dead for some time already.
Quote:(other than the destructive effect of flash light)
Actually, flash light is rarely destructive, although it must be avoided for ancient frescoes et cetera. But paintings are covered by varnish and objects in a display are pretty safe.

The real reason -I was told by one of the guards of the Amsterdam Rijksmuseum- is that the guards of the museum get pretty tired of those flash lights. Just imagine standing an hour next to a famous painting, looking into those flashes.
In the Kurpfälzisches Museum in Heidelberg last week, after making three shots from the large bridge model, the loud speakers got on and a female voice, resounding all over the museum (!), told that photos are not allowed, also "in the archaeology section". Then some guide came hurrying along, too. Although he was a friendly bloke, I got pissed a bit nonetheless and later made, defiantly, a fine pic of the earliest bicycle which now adorns the respective Wikipedia entries. Civil disobedience. Big Grin
British Museum has no problems with photos or flash, except for the likes of the Hadrian exhibition where loaned pieces seem to carry their own restrictions.

In fact, when I asked if I could take photos, one of the guards told me that not only was flash fine, but I could bring in and set up a tripod if I wanted.
Quote:...except for the likes of the Hadrian exhibition where loaned pieces seem to carry their own restrictions.

I noticed, too, there are again different rules for wandering expositions or loaned pieces, which I can kind of understand, since the hosting museums rely on staying on good terms with their partner museums.
Some smaller local museums such as Bosworth Battlefield centre (exhibition containing reproductions as well as original artifacts) state on the tickets that you can take photos, film and even give their blessing to post them on your own website- I feel this is far more useful and would attract more publicity to a wider audience.

See ? I've just given them a free advertisement on here because of that fact! :lol:
Quote:British Museum ... In fact, when I asked if I could take photos, one of the guards told me that not only was flash fine, but I could bring in and set up a tripod if I wanted.
That's the main reason why I LOVE the British Museum. Well, to be honest, they have some nice objects too. :wink:
Quote:Some smaller local museums ... state on the tickets that you can take photos, film and even give their blessing to post them on your own website- I feel this is far more useful and would attract more publicity to a wider audience.
Exactly! Cf. this review of several expositions in Paris, last year, including that beautiful Afghanistan exposition. Conclusion:
I understand that the Afghan archaeologists need money and want to guard their copyright, but the museum ticket already contains one euro for the reconstruction of the Museum of Kabul. It would have been better to double this sum and allow people to take pictures. Their photos are probably the best guarantee that more people will be interested. Copyright matters can never be an excuse for museums to disregard their first and foremost task: to enable visitors to see objects. A museum that obstructs study, has something to explain.
Photography can sometimes be the least of your problems. I know of one academic and her husband who were detained and questioned by police after going into a small provincial French museum where they spotted some really interesting stuff, about which they proceeded to take notes. The explanation that they were academics interested in artefacts took a long time to sink in, rather than the authorities' preferred interpretation of their being criminal masterminds about to plan the most daring museum raid in history. This was all long before the current fear of witchcraft - sorry, terrorism - that plagues us so I shudder to think what would have happened these days.

Mike Bishop
I have found that if you go to the head of the museum or there rep. and tell them what you need or want they tend to be very helpful.
I was at the Texas Ranger museum in Waco, Tx and needed to get some good close up photos of one of the oldest known Texas Ranger badge. I asked if I could take the photos and was told to wait until the museum was closing. The Head of the museum brought me to a room where the badge had been pulled from it's case and brought. He then let me take as many pictures as I wanted. He even had a few of the other 1800's badges brought out of there cases so I could look at them as well. I had a similer thing happen when I was in Germany at the Prussian Army Museum. So some times it just takes asking the right person to get what you need or want. 8) Sometimes it takes some of you time but the rewards can be very good.
Bryan
My Dad was a pro photographer, had his own camera shop, and he explained to me that the old style flash bulbs (one-use-bulbs that had to be replaced after each use) had a light spectrum (UV or something...) that in theory could damage some historic items

Often laughed when a room in an Art Museum had natural light... the sun's OK but a camera flash is not?

He's told me that modern flash is not the same olde time flash.

He suggested that if Museums wanted to protect artefacts from light damage that they should be housed behind specialty glass but that "regular" glass is far more reflective of flash thus more capable of ruining photos!

His suggestion.. don't use a flash.. use your settings and take pictures at a slight angle to the glass case covering.

The real proof is when an institution says no flash photos and then stops you from taking pics without the flash! .. then directs you to the book that's for sale .. the TRUTH will out!!


Sean / Hibernicus
Quote:The real proof is when an institution says no flash photos and then stops you from taking pics without the flash! .. then directs you to the book that's for sale .. the TRUTH will out!!
Yep. And when you reply "Yes, but I want to study this or that object, and that is not in the catalog", the guard will probably want to help you, but it is the director who will not be forthcoming.

I once asked a director why he was making it difficult to study objects - and I got a nonsense answer full of management lingo. When I looked in his eyes and said "Do you believe that yourself?", he admitted that it was nonsense, and that his problem was unsufficient funding and that he needed every instrument to raise money, including the pretension to have copyright on objects made by artists long dead.

I have seen a good system in Libya: when you go there, you buy an additional ticket for the camera. After that, copyright issues are immediately settled - the photo is yours and you can do with it whatever you want, like selling it commercially. Once you've paid Mr Khadaffi a modest sum, he won't complain, knowing that the photos you've made, will lure people to his country.
Quote:I have seen a good system in Libya: when you go there, you buy an additional ticket for the camera. After that, copyright issues are immediately settled - the photo is yours and you can do with it whatever you want, like selling it commercially. Once you've paid Mr Khadaffi a modest sum, he won't complain, knowing that the photos you've made, will lure people to his country.

Good idea! Simple & efficient.
Same thing in Ukraine, one ticket for photos, another for videos.

Just came back from looking at the traveling "Roman Art from the Louvre" collection, including the "Praetorian Relief". Of course,, the diploma I want is poorly represented in the catalog, and no pictures since they want to sell the catalog.
Quote:British Museum has no problems with photos or flash, except for the likes of the Hadrian exhibition where loaned pieces seem to carry their own restrictions.

Do they allow taking pics only for private purposes, or also for commercial ones?
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