Google’s mission to digitize artwork from around the world is testing the bounds of copyright protection and the fairness of licensing contracts.Launched in February 2011, the Google Art Project provides access to more than 30,000 high-resolution images of paintings, sculptures and photographs from more than 180 museums and institutions in 40 countries, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, the de Young Museum in San Francisco and the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.With the ability to zoom in to see precision details up close, the Google Art Project was designed to make artwork more widely available and to promote popular interest. But museums, while appreciating the attention, are wary about which art they share. And their lawyers are treading carefully.Troy Klyber, intellectual property manager at the Art Institute of Chicago, saw participating in the Google Art Project as a way to fulfill the museum’s mission, which is to share its works with the public. But because ownership of an art object doesn’t necessarily include ownership of the object’s copyright, the Art Institute could only include works for which it had been assigned the copyright through gift or contract, or works by artists… Read full this story
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