“Any analysis of ownership and duration must be performed on a case-by-case basis for each work.”
Copyright & Cultural Institutions: Guidelines for Digitization for U.S. Libraries, Archives & Museums.
Peter Hirtle, Emily Hudson and Andrew T. Kenyon (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Library, 2009)
Given this statement, from some of the best authorities in the field, we faced a dilemma:
- Work created before 1923: no known copyright restrictions
- Work created from 1923 to the present: under copyright, even though copyright may have expired. Someone with the time and resources to do detailed, case-by-case research may be able to clear the work
- Anonymous artists: works created before 1890: no known copyright restrictions.
- Brooklyn Museum photographs of three-dimensional works not protected by copyright: Creative Commons license
Deborah Wythe manages the Brooklyn Museum’s Digital Collections and Services department (the “Digital Lab”), coordinating digital imaging activities museum-wide, including the photo studio, scan lab, digital asset management, and rights and reproductions. Before moving to the Digital Lab, Deb was the Museum Archivist, where she managed the Museum’s historical records and worked on several technology-driven projects. Deb edited the new edition of Museum Archives: An Introduction, published by the Society of American Archivists in 2004, and wrote the chapters on the museum context, appraisal, description, records surveys, and photographs. Prior to joining the Brooklyn Museum staff, she worked on the Steinway Collection at the LaGuardia and Wagner Archives and, as an intern, organized the records of the Department of Musical Instruments at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. In her previous life, before discovering archives work (she has always been a museum maven), Deb earned her Master’s and PhD in musicology at NYU. She still studies the piano.