Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 15, No. 160.
Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
Date: Sat, 04 Aug 2001 08:02:09 +0100
From: "David L. Gants" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Image Copyright
>> From: Barbara Bordalejo <email@example.com>
I wonder if anyone has looked at the implications for us of the
copyright case brought by the Bridgeman Art Library against Corel in
1998, and decided against Bridgeman in 1999? The effect of this case
seems to be that from now on there is no copyright in medieval
manuscript images of any kind (digital, printed, etc.). For example, I
could take the images of the Ellesmere color facsimile and digitize them
and publish them anywhere I like, and no one could stop me.
Corel had used images of paintings in the BAL, and the BAL sued. There
was a first ruling in which the judge said that under United States law
photographs which represent faithfully a two-dimensional object cannot
be subject to copyright because they lack artistic or creative elements.
Moreover, in the appeal the court was asked to consider the state of
British law, on the grounds (apparently) that the objects might be
copyrightable under British law. The court rejected this argument too:
it was of the opinion that copyright law in Britain as well as the US
would also not protect these images.
You can read about the case at
I would really appreciate your opinions on this issue. It seems to me
that this ruling has the potential to change completely the state of
play between scholars who want to use manuscript images, publishers who
want to distribute them, and the librarians who hold the manuscripts.
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