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October 16, 2006 09:15 AM

Broken: Spurious "copyright area" sign

CopyrightprotectedareaCommenting on a sign declaring a "copyright-protected area", Cory comments on BoingBoing today:

"One of the side-effects of the entertainment industry's war on copying is that it's created a kind of folk-mythology about copyright being a kind of magic word you can invoke to put a fence around anything that you want to police."



The obviuos thing to do in this case is civil disobedience. Photograph the subject from as many angles as you can conceive of and distrtibute them far and wide on the 'net.

Posted by: Glenn Lasher at October 16, 2006 09:31 AM

Not necessarily broken. Without any context, it's impossible to tell.

Many museums display works copyrighted by the artist, and they *do* have the right to prevent you from taking photos of a copyrighted work. This may be what the sign is trying to say, however tersely.


Posted by: jdreeves at October 16, 2006 10:44 AM

One more link to show it's not broken: Buildings and interior structures *are* protected by copyright. The exception is when they're visible from the street or public property.

Posted by: jdreeves at October 16, 2006 10:50 AM

or it could just be as simple as them being nice enough to tell you why you aren't supposed to have cameras...

Instead of a sign that says "bring a camera in here and we will smash it to bits and not tell you why, and maniacally laugh while we are doing it", they are asking nicely and letting you know its not because they are just being annoying...

(although I'd love to see a sign like that!!)

Posted by: Memnon at October 16, 2006 02:57 PM

Yes, it is broken.

There is no such thing as a "copyright protected area", period. Yes, a building or interior structure can be subject to copyright, but that does not mean that you cannot photograph it. Photography of copyright-protected material is legal and is being done day-in day-out. There is a reason why there is a photocopier in your local public library: because it is perfectly legal to make copies of copyright-protected works.

No, you are not allowed, say, to redistribute such copies. But personal use, review or satire are expressly named in the copyright laws as "fair use" reasons to make a copy of copyrighted material.

That said: a museum can set whatever rules they wish, of course. If they want to disallow blue hats, then they can put up a sign that says "do not wear blue hats". Entirely unproblematic. Where the sign becomes broken is when they add some kind of invalid reasoning to the prohibition of wearing of blue hats.

"Do not wear blue hats because you'd be violating the chemical substance analog act": THAT is broken.

And in the same way, it is broken to say "you cannot use a camera here because you'd be violating copyright somewhere" because copyright does not in any way impede anybody's ability to use a camera. For certain well-known and well-defined purposes.

Posted by: Sven Geier at October 16, 2006 04:26 PM

what's broken is that the picture shows an accordion-box camera... no one has used those in seventy years.

Posted by: VHoratio at October 16, 2006 06:11 PM

I agree that the sign is broken, but did anyone actually read the linked story? This was put in place by a booth at a fair where a person would take pictures of people with a bird. Since this is how this person makes his living, I can understand why he would not want people to take their own pictures.

Posted by: ebob at October 16, 2006 07:00 PM

I read the linked article. But making invalid legal claims to stop people from taking pictures is wrong. The linked article also made the point that appealing to the public by pointing out that this is how you make a living so cameras are disallowed would likely achieve the same result without resorting to claiming copuright restrictions that do not really exist.

Posted by: Carlos Gomez at October 17, 2006 10:22 AM

And you didn't even obey the sign.

Posted by: zzo38 at November 5, 2006 11:45 PM

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