UPDATE 2014-11-25 6:28AM (ET): Grant Young, Head of Digital Content at Cambridge University Library commented to let us know where the Darwin manuscripts stand legally. The unpublished manuscripts remain under copyright to the Darwin Estate until 2039. As Young notes in his comment below, Cambridge University Library is actively working to reduce the copyright period on unpublished works and prefers to release documents as openly as possible. The original post has been modified with the elements that are no longer applicable having been struck out.
The Charles Darwin Papers in the Manuscripts Department of Cambridge University Library hold nearly the entire extant collection of Darwin’s working scientific papers. Paramount among these documents are Charles Darwin’s Evolution Manuscripts, which are being published online at the Cambridge Digital Library and simultaneously at the Darwin Manuscripts Project in collaboration with the Darwin Correspondence Project. This is a conceptually coherent set of over 30,000 digitised and edited manuscript pages, spanning 1835-1882.
–Cambridge Digital Library
We have a hopeful sounding update on the takedown of astronaut Chris Hadfield’s video cover of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” from the International Space Station. According to Ars Technica, it was Hadfield himself who took down the video in order to comply with his original agreement with David Bowie. For those paying close attention (eg, not me), Hadfield gave us a little advanced warning that this was going to happen:
Yet the fact that something that people liked to watch was disappearing from YouTube prompted a bewildering public outcry.
The outcry might have been unreasonable, but there was nothing bewildering about it to regular viewers of the Internet.
The original one-year license made sense at the time. In retrospect, the video seems like the most likely candidate to go viral ever. At the time, who knew it would matter so much when the license expired?
Hadfield’s cover of “Space Oddity” was tremendously good press for Bowie and introduced the song to generations that were not necessarily familiar with his oeuvre. While not necessarily fair, it was obvious that the removal of Hadfield’s cover from the public spaces on YouTube would make Bowie look like a monster. In many ways, this is less a copyright FAIL than a public relations FAIL.
*I suspect that, were I David Bowie, that this issue has not been at the top of my priority list.
According to the Ottawa Citizen, David Bowie had given Hadfield a one-year license to cover Space Oddity. Last Wednesday, the license expired and the video was taken down.
While Bowie has the right to license his song as he sees fit under the law, it is difficult to see how this helps anyone, including Bowie, aka The Goblin King. It is very easy to see how this hurts the effort to inspire people with science and art.
At the time, I wrote that Hadfield’s cover represented the “best of humanity”. If that was true then, what does this – the use of copyright pedantry not to prevent theft of ideas, but to squash creativity and inspiration – represent?
But, let us reflect the best of humanity and be charitable. Maybe Bowie just forgot to renew the license. I do that all the time – forget things, not licenses, no one wants to license my crap.
If you don’t tell people who took the pictures, how do the photographers benefit from having their work seen by the “massives”? Sure, having one’s work make an impact is a reward unto itself, but it doesn’t pay the bills.
When our artists can’t pay their bills, we get less art. Or as the internet would say, “This is why we can’t have nice things.”
*In general, I avoid linking to folks that are making their bank on the backs of uncredited artists.
Like other museums that share portions of their collection online, this make an experience of the Getty’s collections available for people around the world, who cannot actually visit the Getty. While the works of art themselves are in the public domain, the Getty might claim copyright over the scans/photos of the art. Instead, they have taken the step of making clear that this images are available for the public to use and adapt as we see fit.
The Getty makes available, without charge, all available digital images to which the Getty holds the rights or that are in the public domain to be used for any purpose. No permission is required. – The Getty “Open Content Program”
I don’t know if letting me print 300dpi images of classic art will hurt The Getty’s bottom line due to reduced gift shop sales of postcards (not from me, the gift shops never have the pieces I want). Hopefully, The Getty’s program will inspire other museums to consider following suit.
*The results of a search for “science” were a bit disappointing, but I suspect that this is mainly due to the age of many of the works. Using a historically relevant term, like “philosophy” was much more productive.
**Hat tip to Hannah Williams.