February 09, 2005

Copyrights in Public Parks

The Reader recounts the experience of photojournalist Warren Wimmer's attempts to photograph Anish Kapoor's sculpture, Cloud Gate (more commonly known as "the Bean"). When Wimmer set up his tripod and camera to shoot the sculpture, security guards stopped him, demanding that they show him a permit. Wimmer protested, replying that it's absurd that one needs to pay for a permit to photograph public art in a city-owned park.

Ben Joravsky, the author of the Reader article, attempted to contact park officials for an explanation and received a response from Karen Ryan, press director for the park's project director:"The copyrights for the enhancements in Millennium Park are owned by the artist who created them. As such, anyone reproducing the works, especially for commercial purposes, needs the permission of that artist."
Link (via BoingBoing)

It's a public sculpture, placed in the middle of a public park. But the piece is a copyrighted work, and therefore, taking pictures of it constitutes copyright infringement. What a sham. (1) The Artist already got a few million for the piece being commissioned in the first place. (2) He pays nothing to have his work displayed VERY prominently in a high-traffic area. It's basically the city's biggest, shiniest artist's business card. (3) Upkeep of the work is paid with public funds. (4) The public pays for security guards to go around protecting this artist's cash flow, in the form of paid licenses.

To the local official who agreed to this, I quote Alex Bragg: "I know it LOOKS like you can fit two rocks in the crack pipe, but SERIOUSLY, just the one."

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