Libraries Society of North America 31st Annual Conference
Wyndham Baltimore Inner Harbor, Baltimore, Maryland - March 20-26, 2003
March 24, 2003
Picture’s Worth a Thousand Words: Art Images, Copyright and E-Journals
by The H.W. Wilson Company
Eve Sinaiko, Director of Publications, College Art Association
Heidi McGregor, Director of Publisher Relations, JSTOR
Conna Clark, Manager, Rights and Resproductions, Philadelphia Museum of Art
Cara List, University of Oregon
Deborah K. Ultan, University of Minnesota
attendees for “A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words” occupied every chair in
the room and then seating spilled onto the floor.
Aware of the surprising popularity of this session, panelist Eve Sinakio,
Editor for the College Art Association, remarked “this must be a topic many
people are worried about.” Discussion
commenced by addressing the issue of why art publications are so far behind
other fields with its use of electronic publishing.
Sinaiko began by explaining the obvious: The field of art and art
publications rely on images more than other fields and the process of clearing
copyright for art images can be prohibitive.
The routine process for publishing art works has issues in and of itself,
Sinaiko pointed out, and that model does not even necessarily apply to the
electronic realm. A good model for an electronic art journal is the Nineteenth
Century Art Online -- http://19thc-artworldwide.org/
focused mainly on publishing in print, and illustrated some of the copyright
issues: While a major work on Monet, for example, needs to be accompanied by
images and preferably in color, a catalogue
raisonne requires a complete copy of all of the known images produced by an
artist. But clearing images for
copyright is a costly process, she explained, and since publishing houses are
not wealthy they need to be certain that a book will sell to a large audience.
In this scenario, the catalogue raisonne
may never make it to print. Sinaiko
described the factors a publishing house must consider when making a decision
about what to publish: How difficult will it be to obtain reproduction rights?
How much will it cost to get rights? (a book on twentieth century art,
for example, could cost up to $300,000 for the image rights alone) What are the
restrictions involved with reproducing the images? Can the images be easily
collected from the public domain or from private collections only?
In closing, Sinaiko emphasized that publishers will make decisions
according to ‘risk assessment’.
McGregor, Director of Public Relations, JSTOR: The Scholarly Journal Archive,
focused her presentation on the issues of electronic archiving as related to the
goals of JSTOR. McGregor first
explained that JSTOR is a not-for-profit organization and a digital archive of
scholarly journals. JSTOR is taking responsibility to work out the challenges of
electronic archiving and the complexities of archiving to scholarship, while
also attempting to provide a place for preserving public documents.
Like a library, JSTOR provides availability and stewardship of academic
journals. The primary challenge of
digitizing scholarly art journals, she explained, is copyright, and also issues
of electronic preservation. The
guiding principle behind the digitization project is that the end product must
retain the look and feel of the original, the images remain integral to the
JSTOR has digitized only thumbnail images, but their plan is to instead use a
TIFF format with 300 dpi in order to “preserve the essence of the image.”
JSTOR is currently consulting with the Digital Library Federation on electronic
presentation of images. The goal is to present the images within the content,
capture the location coordinates of the images on the page, as in the original
journal, and to create a composite page that is an exact facsimile.
In order to streamline the process of gaining the permissions for each
image in all of the back issues of the journals, JSTOR is working with the Art
History project to instead gain permission from the journals
for the page "image." The future goal for JSTOR is to be able to
provide a mechanism where discrete elements of the images such as artist, title
of piece, date, etc. can be searched.
‘rights and legal’ issues that JSTOR routinely faces have to do with the
fact that the journals have more than just the content -- there is also the
advertising, for example. Since
JSTOR plans to preserve exact replicas of the journals and all aspects of the
published presentation, the process is complicated. McGregor used the U.S. Supreme Court case between a freelance
author and the New York Times (New York Times Co., Inc., et al. v. Tasini et
al.), as an example of case law related to technology, publishing and copyright.
Because of this case, authors and publishers are now more actively
seeking electronic rights. McGregor
admits that JSTOR is just beginning to work out these issues, and commented that
the restrictions and cost of obtaining rights is rather discouraging.
JSTOR identified 12 core art history journals that they would like to
digitize. So far the seven that
have agreed to participate include the Art Bulletin, Art Journal, Burlington,
Gesta, Society of Architectural Historians, Warburg, and October. JSTOR will ensure, she said, the comprehensive preservation
of intellectual heritage while accounting for the interests of the stakeholders.
Clark, Manager of Rights and Reproductions, the Philadelphia Museum of Art was
the final presenter. While she
admittedly spoke on behalf of the museum’s role with copyright and publishing
issues, she also emphasized the fact that every museum administrates these
issues differently. On this point,
she stated, “Every museum is its own community and idiosyncratic to the
extreme.” Museums are similar,
however, in how they are particularly sympathetic to the issues of copyright and
publishing. They function not only
as archivists but are authors of content, content providers and content seekers,
and involved at points of the copyright issues. Museums, said Clark, follow the
topic with great interest, since it serves in part their mission to promote
education. Accordingly, museums are
attentive to the quality of reproductions, the quality of information, and the
internal and external constituencies from which they sell or get images.
the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Clark can ensure quality reproductions but bears
in mind market trends. Formats for
public use and scholarship may differ and require the museum to be flexible with
requests, just as the curators that provide the information that accompany the
images can be only so absolute about facts. Quality, in this case, is relative. In closing, Clark revealed that she is not concerned about
how much the big publishers are getting their images online, but suspects this
approach may dilute image reproduction standards.
session was lively, information rich and raised important and engaging
questions. The questions that followed the presentations considered donor and
copyright issues, how to handle works unattributed to authorship, the Faxon
issue, license fees, and how aggressively JSTOR will pursue art journals.