|Back to LUCI. Armed with case law, newly articulated principles, and
examples of conscientious practices under my belt, I confess that I was
getting a little cocky. Then I attempted to obtain an understanding of
international law and was humbled. I should reiterate that I do not claim
to be an expert in this area by any stretch of the imagination, but hope
that my navigation to date might help us explore these deep waters together
and determine if there be monsters!|
I first discovered reassuring news that national copyright laws apply only within their own country (B&C, p. 145). However, countries enter into agreements with other nations to extend copyright protection and today there are few that do not have treaty arrangements for the international protection of copyrights (S, p.227). Most countries are members of the two great multilateral agreements governing international copyright in the world today: the Berne Union for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Property of 1886 (or Berne Convention which is the oldest and the largest of the two) and/or the Universal Copyright Convention of 1952 (or UCC) (B&C, p. 147). The United States was one of the founding members of the UCC, but did not join Berne until 1989 (B&C,p.228), and Italy too belongs. The key precepts of both Berne and the UCC are: 1) "national treatment" which is the requirement that every member nation extend the protection of its laws to works that originate in other member nations, and, 2) the "setting of standards" which refers to the length of terms of protection and eschews the formality of copyright registration and notice (S, pp. 228-230).
In a 1997 publication entitled Technology and Copyright Law, Bielefield and Cheeseman summarize what international copyright agreement means for educators, librarians, and researchers. Four points are made: 1) There is no such thing as an international copyright law that governs all nations; 2) Copyrights of other countries generally do not have any effect in the United States unless the U.S. has signed a bilateral agreement with that country or that country is a member of a multilateral copyright agreement that the U.S. has signed; 3) Signatories of copyright conventions or treaties generally only receive the same copyright protection that another member country provides to its own citizens; and, 4) It is not necessary to know the copyright law of another country. One need only understand U.S. copyright law, because foreign copyrighted works of signatory countries are treated the same as works copyrighted in the U.S. (B&C, p. 148). The problem lies in the second statement; Italy and the United States have signed multilateral agreements which suggests that Italian copyright law may have some impact. However, the other three items suggest that LUCI is fine as long as we treat the images of Italian cultural heritage with the same copyright protection as images of American cultural heritage. Kenny Crews stated in his 1993 book, Copyright, Fair Use, and the Challenge for Universities, that the U.S. entry into the Berne Convention affirms that each country may establish a right to use copyrighted works for teaching and research (c, p. 129). However, an accompanying explanation adds that those rights may be curtailed in countries that offer a "collective license" program. Crews suggests that the development of an ideal collective administration is far in the future in the United States and I have extended this to conclude that considering their infamous bureaucracy, this must be even further away in Italy. Subsequent evidence makes me less sure of this.
I have had little success in tracking down the precise published reference that many believed to be humor - copyrighting Tuscany. Yet, I have contacted everyone in association with the e-mail exchange on the listservs and traced the information to a BBC World Services broadcast on the morning of April 4th, 1997. It was reported that an administrative official in Tuscany stated that he wants to copyright the surrounding landscape to prevent commercial exploitation by non-Tuscan companies promoting products unrelated to the area. He argued that the Tuscan landscape was created by the Tuscan peasants down through the ages and as their common heritage it should belong to them. This political tirade seems to be aimed at the private, commercial media. To my knowledge, no such legislation has actually been drafted in Italy to date, but one can only hope that it will be aimed at commercial rather than educational interests. So, keep your panoramic views of Florence, Siena, etc., for now! More substantive evidence that the Italians are moving in the direction of tighter controls over their cultural heritage is to be found on the "Beni Culturali, Beni Virtuali" Website (http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Acroplois/3518/appeng.html). An appeal to the Italian Minister of Cultural Patrimony can be found here and the like-minded can endorse and e-mail it on if so inclined. Archaeological and research groups are trying to get the Italian government to remove regulatory obstacles that restrict the development of virtual museums for nonprofit, educational purposes. They are asking for the use of photographic images of Italian artistic, archaeological, historical, architectural, and bibliographic patrimony without fees for the purposes of promoting culture through their distribution over the Internet.
From this letter, the reader can link to two interesting documents and draw some tentative conclusions. The first link is to the Convention of Malta, a European Convention on the Protection of the Archaeological Heritage, which was signed by the Italian government in 1992. Article 9 specifically states that each signatory will undertake to promote public access to their archaeological heritage and encourage the display to the public of suitable selections of archaeological objects. This treaty is being used in their attempt to persuade the Italian government to lighten up. The second link is to a four year old ministerial order 171/194 that set down the regulations governing the use of images from Italy's cultural patrimony. Article 19 stipulates that there is no compensation necessary if the images are for personal use or for reasons that promote study. However, there is a permissions process and the expenses of the administration must be covered. The clincher is that there may be no distribution to the public and everything must be done in accordance with these terms. The payment of substantial fees, there is a scale of charges for every act of transfer, is required for the use of images utilized for commercial purposes. The only good news is that, to my knowledge, there is no Italian law that has specifically mentioned the Internet as a distribution mechanism. Yet, the Beni Culturali, Beni Virtuali folks are probably quite correct to interpret this to be the case since the Web does make images available to the world. However, there appears to be much regulatory uncertainty.
Information from a Florence-based business involved in creating digital images for museums confirmed that there is no Italian law governing the images of publicly accessible monuments. For example, my slides of Pompeii are probably fine. However, there is a law that applies to photographing art and artifacts in museums, galleries, and public institutions. I think he is also referring to ministerial order 171/194 mentioned above. This would make my slides of Lysippos' Hercules in the Naples Museum less acceptable on the Internet. Purportedly, one should pay the Italian government about $200 for each photograph taken or an official request can be made to the local bureaucrats who provide photograghs for a price (I will leave the time that might take to your imagination). It should also be noted that the archaeological museum in Naples has a textual Web page but there are images presently available (http://www.cib.na.cnr.it/mann/museo/mn.html).
Another e-mail correspondent reported that a professor on an U.S. campus was plagiarized by an Italian publisher and that three letters of apology from various staff members were considered compensation enough for the deed. I hope that I can apologize and remove the images from LUCI's Web page rather than pay $200 a pop or worse. At least I can rest assured that many of you will come to visit me in Italian copyright jail! Once again, I feel that it is the difference between commercial and educational ventures that should save the day.