helenlt on September 28th, 2012
Changes to Academic Publishing, NPG and Creative Commons and Licensing Images of People
I keep coming across interesting articles on blogs and in the news and promising myself I’ll do a blog post on that soon. So here are few that I have stumbled across recently:
This opinion piece by Hugh Gusterson in the Chronicle of Higher Education adds to the ongoing debate in the “academic spring”. Hugh discusses the role academics play in academic publishing in not just writing articles but also acting as editors and reviewers for journals, often without any remuneration, and how dependent academic publishers are on this free labour. Hugh suggests leveraging that reliance to effect change by refusing to review material for big-profit publishers for free.
Britain’s National Portrait Gallery has began licensing its images under Creative Commons to allow
non-commercial and academic use. This is significant because a few years ago the NPG and Wikicommons got into a stoush over whether or not the NPG could claim copyright in its digital images of out of copyright material. Effectively, Wikicommons said “No, you can’t”, the NPG said “Yes, we can” (no backsies) and legal action was threatened. The issue of whether or not cultural institutions can claim copyright over digital images that are in the public domain is contentious. On the one hand, it appears to run contrary to the purpose of many cultural institutions of providing access to and sharing their collections with the public. On the other hand, licensing of items in the collection often generates funds that help the institution to undertake the work to make material available online.
Nevertheless, this is a great step forward for the NPG and provides yet another copyright friendly resource for teaching, research and other university purposes. I should point out that not all of the NPG images are available under Creative Commons. Works that are still in copyright, will still require permission unless the copyright owner has chosen to apply a CC licence so check the licensing information for the image carefully.
For further discussion, see Art historians welcome open approach to image copyright in The Conservation.
A Cautionary Tale
My final find relates to a cautionary tale. How much is your face worth?, which appeared in Daily Life tells the story of Joe Rauhina, a Maori with a unique facial tattoo, who was working as a model. Joe agreed to a photo shoot with Getty Images, and as part of the shoot signed a waiver allowing Getty unlimited use of the photos and his image. As a result, while Rauhina receive a fee for the initial shoot, he is not entitled to any royalties even though Getty licenses the image, in some cases for as much as $60,000.
So what does have to do with us? We work in academia not modelling!! Well, we often get queries from staff and students who are asked to sign publishing agreements and consent forms allowing themselves to be published, have their lectures recorded, appear in an interview, allow the use of their photo or otherwise use their work. The one thing we always say, (and we wish someone had said it to Joe Rauhina), is make sure you read any agreements carefully. If you don’t understand what the agreement is asking, what rights you are being given and what rights you are giving up, get legal advice.