Copyright issues – Bridgeman Education and beyond

Following the example of Mags Phelan, and subsequent to an email from my tutor (similar, I guess, to the one that all OCA Drawing 1 and other students have now received), I have also elected to make Research Points private, where these include images from Bridgeman Education.  In future, I will make links to images, as needed, which is what I did for the first few months of this learning log’s life.  Where posts include a combination of such images with my own sketches and drawings, I have removed the Bridgeman images and established links.   Mags has decided to make her learning log temporarily private around assessment time so that her tutor / assessors have complete access to the content, which sounds a practical solution and I intend to do the same.

It is a pity that it has to be this way on student sites that are non-profitmaking.  Mags mentioned that one solution would be for Bridgeman to offer low resolution images for student use on public sites.  While removing images this morning and establishing links, I discovered that Bridgeman has now registered the OCA as a “trial user”.  Here is the message which accompanies their images: “Note that as a trial user you only have access to lower resolution, watermarked images. Once you become a paid member of Bridgeman Education, you will have access to higher resolution, un-watermarked images.”

Thus, their images are now low res and watermarked, into the bargain, which makes them not only less appealing to use on a blog (their intention) but also less useful as images to link to.  If I wish to link to an image in future, it makes more sense to find a good quality one elsewhere!  I wonder what the OCA’s stance will be on their trial user status?

When I visit a museum or gallery, I always ask if I may take photographs, without flash.  Some museums allow this and have a very open and accepting attitude, others do not.  For example, the Kunst Museum in Bonn allows it, while the Kunst Halle next door, does not.  In Museum Ludwig, in Köln, they allow photography in their permanent collection but not of temporary exhibitions, such as the recent Hockney “Bigger Picture” exhibition.  I respect their decisions.  However, there are so many copies of artworks out there on the internet that the whole copyright issue for images – especially of older and more well-known artworks – has become extremely blurred (or should that be low res? – sorry!).

On a brighter note, I recently took photographs of a contemporary Polish artist’s (Miroslaw Luma) work at a local private gallery.  I was given permission to take the photographs, although I did not mention that I might upload them to my learning log. However, subsequent to their publication, I received what appears to be a bona fide email from a friend of his, also an artist, who thanked me for doing so!

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5 thoughts on “Copyright issues – Bridgeman Education and beyond

  1. It does seem that many individual artists, when asked personally, are happy to allow reproduction of low-res images, as long as they’re credited and a link to the artists’ work is provided – but it’s a variable business, and hard to predict anyone’s reaction. In the email I had from the OCA, they said they were trying to negotiate a new arrangement with Bridgeman, presumably to overturn the trial user status you mention. It makes a paper learning log seem more attractive in some ways – none of the copyright worry. But also none of student interaction, alas. And even more to mail to tutors ands assessors!

    1. A paper log would definitely save time but, like you, I would really miss the online interaction, especially as I live in Germany and cannot take part in study visits etc.. Also, it cost me 17 euros (about 14 GBP?) to send my last assignment to my tutor and if I had to send sketchbooks, too….! It would be cheaper to get a cheap flight and deliver them by hand!

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