Bridgeman Art Library Sues Corel

Posted on 7/27/1998 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)



July 29, 1998

Suit To Defend Copyright of Copy Transparencies of Fine Art Work

The Bridgeman Art Library is pursuing unauthorized use of more than 150
images in its collection which appeared on clip art discs published by Corel and which
could be downloaded for use for a few dollars each from the Corel Web Site. The
images were sold to Corel by a third party who has since gone into liquidation and
who neither Corel nor Bridgeman have been able to trace in order to question further.

The Bridgeman Art Library started the action some time ago on behalf of
the museums and other art collections it represents who own the copyright in the
photography of the works of art involved. Corel has argued that the paintings
are out of copyright and thus anyone is free to use the images as they wish.
They argue that the photographs of these paintings do not deserve copyright protection
in their own right. This is a rather disingenuous argument considering
they paid for images which they now claim are public domain.

Harriet Bridgeman comments, "Museums and Art Collections around
the world rely on income from reproduction rights to the material in their collections.
It is an outrageous suggestion that their photography is not in their copyright.
Photographing a work of art is a skilled undertaking. If Corel believes that
photographs of paintings do not deserve copyright protection where do you draw
the line? Who is to judge how much skill and effort a photograph entails? Why
should a snapshot of a group of friends taken by an amateur be awarded copyright
and not a carefully lit photograph of a painting taken by a professional in
that field?"

Museums represented by the Bridgeman Art Library whose photographs are
involved in the action include the National Galleries of Scotland, the Wallace
Collection, London, The Guildhall Art Gallery and the Fitzwilliam Museum.
Deborah Hunter, Photographic Licensing Manager at the National Galleries of
Scotland comments: "Reproduction of our images without permission
is theft of our intellectual copyright in whatever format."

The Bridgeman Art Library is the world's most comprehensive source of fine art images for
publication, with over 100,00 images of works from over 750 collections
worldwide. They have received European Union funding in association with La Reunion
des Musees Nationaux in France, Bildarchiv Preussischer Kulturbesitz in
Berlin, CTS Technology in Ireland and ImageFinder systems in Zurich, to
create "Artweb" - a multilingual access point on the internet to the
world's art.

Copyright © 1998 Jim Pickerell. The above article may not be copied, reproduced, excerpted or distributed in any manner without written permission from the author. All requests should be submitted to Selling Stock at 10319 Westlake Drive, Suite 162, Bethesda, MD 20817, phone 301-461-7627, e-mail: wvz@fpcubgbf.pbz

Jim Pickerell is founder of, an online newsletter that publishes daily. He is also available for personal telephone consultations on pricing and other matters related to stock photography. He occasionally acts as an expert witness on matters related to stock photography. For his current curriculum vitae go to:  


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