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Censorship Patents

Public Park Designated Copyrighted Space 770

wiggles writes "The City of Chicago recently completed a $475 million park/civic center known as Millennium Park. One of the central features is a sculpture officially called Cloud Gate and unofficially called "The Bean". The Bean is a giant, 3 story, 110-ton hunk of highly reflective steel. Photographers taking pictures of the sculpture have been charged money by the city. The park district is claiming that pictures of the park violate the designers' and artists' copyrights. Quoth Karen Ryan, the press director for the park's project, "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." In response, Chicagoland bloggers have been posting as many pictures as they can get of The Bean."
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Public Park Designated Copyrighted Space

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  • by TimmyDee ( 713324 ) on Saturday February 12, 2005 @04:41PM (#11653812) Homepage Journal
    What happens to other publicly displayed works of art? Also, wasn't this payed for by the people of Chicago and thus now owned by the taxpayers? Shouldn't it be up to them to decide how to enforce/not enforce the copyright? Essentially, this is like Ford telling people not to take pictures of their own cars because the designers (read: the company) still own the copyright to the design.

  • by RLiegh ( 247921 ) * on Saturday February 12, 2005 @04:42PM (#11653817) Homepage Journal
    people will be harassed and intimidated merely for taking photos of public landmarks! [nwsource.com]
  • Stupider (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Mark_MF-WN ( 678030 ) on Saturday February 12, 2005 @04:42PM (#11653819)
    The entire world is now stupider for having shared a planet with this foolishness.

    In a sense, this is a good thing, because it turns more people against the modern bastardization of copyright law. A few more incidents like this and America will be ready for serious reforms to copyright law.

  • Charging money (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nuclear305 ( 674185 ) * on Saturday February 12, 2005 @04:45PM (#11653848)
    "Photographers taking pictures of the sculpture have been charged money by the city."

    That's about one step short of the RIAA charging me every time I hear a song in a public place...

    Somehow I wouldn't be surprised if the city is keeping that money for themselves rather than collecting that money for the artists that created these so-called copyrighted works.

    I must also wonder how long this will go unchallenged. I can't see this standing up in court if, for example, the land was paid for using tax dollars instead of private funding.
  • by sgant ( 178166 ) on Saturday February 12, 2005 @04:50PM (#11653902) Homepage Journal
    The Bean itself is voilating copyrights of the buildings that it reflects...the reflections themselves are "reproductions" of the buildings that are designed by artists and builders.

    I think the designers of the Prudential Building should charge the designers and the City of Chicago for the reproduction of their building without their permission.
  • by ABeowulfCluster ( 854634 ) on Saturday February 12, 2005 @04:52PM (#11653916)
    .. anthem.
  • by SirChive ( 229195 ) on Saturday February 12, 2005 @04:52PM (#11653917)
    ...complete and absolute corporate control over a nation's legal framework.
  • by drxray ( 839725 ) on Saturday February 12, 2005 @04:57PM (#11653962) Homepage
    So, does this mean that weather satellites aren't allowed to point at Chicago any more?
  • by Seumas ( 6865 ) on Saturday February 12, 2005 @04:58PM (#11653968)
    How is taking a photo of a sculpture "reproducing" it anymore than taking a photo of an album is stealing the music?
  • by Doc Ruby ( 173196 ) on Saturday February 12, 2005 @05:00PM (#11653982) Homepage Journal
    It's a gift. So what if it wasn't paid for by Chicagoans? It was a gift from SBC to them. So it's now the property of Chicago, of Chicagoans, of the public. BTW, anyone who thinks a gift from SBC to the City is really "free" wouldn't survive a Winter in Chicago - or a Summer, either.
  • by brwski ( 622056 ) on Saturday February 12, 2005 @05:00PM (#11653985)

    This is simply what happens when (and these are not necessarily related):

    1. Everything becomes a commodity,
    2. Representations of things become somehow more valuable than the things themselves.
    The first issue expresses itself most clearly in societies where money is held to be both the highest value and the Most Powerful Thing: whoever contols it, and can get their hands on it, clearly has The Power. Thus people seek to control the flow of commodities (which now include ideas, representations, waveforms, etc.) so as to tap into the flow of power, i.e., money. The second issue...well, the second issue is troublesome in its own special way. It also has been dealt with by Baudrillard time and time again. Just check out some of his essays...they're certainly not the final word on the subject, but they cover far more ground that may sensibly be covered here. One might perhaps want to begin with some of the essays in The Transparency of Evil or in Screened Out.
  • Re:Charging money (Score:2, Insightful)

    by creysoft ( 856713 ) on Saturday February 12, 2005 @05:02PM (#11654001)
    Actually, it's more akin to the RIAA charging you everytime one of their copyrighted songs shows up in an audio/video recording of yours, or the way the biocorps are charging farmers for GM seed ending up in their fields.

    The problem is that the law is black and white, and this is such a gray area. How much control should artists have over their work? Should it change over time? What happens in unusual circumstances? What's the difference between taking a photograph of a painting for your scrap book, and taking a hi res Photograph to be used for reproduction?

    In this particular instance, I think it's pretty clear. The sculpture itself is copyrighted, which means its three dimensional shape and form are owned by the artist. The authors can't realistically claim copyright ownership on a Photograph of it. They are most likely arguing that photographs are a derivative work of their copyrighted design, but that is (as in an aforementioned example of photographing cars) ludicrous. There is no possible way this can stand up in court. If it does, then there is no way you can take a photograph of anything man-made. Pretty much anything not utilitarian or standardized is sculpture in some form, and therefore copyrighted. By taking a photograph of a typical home, you would be creating a derivative work of dozens of copyrighted sculptures.

    People need to stop looking out for themselves and actually spend some time thinking about the consequences of their actions.
  • by kTag ( 24819 ) <pierrenNO@SPAMmac.com> on Saturday February 12, 2005 @05:17PM (#11654109)
    The thing is, nobody is asking you any money to take a picture of it, even at night!! Biiiig difference.
  • Re:hmmmmm..... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jackbird ( 721605 ) on Saturday February 12, 2005 @05:25PM (#11654163)
    I always figured the wording of that warning gives YOU permission to tape the call, too :).
  • by InfallibleLies ( 654694 ) on Saturday February 12, 2005 @05:25PM (#11654167)
    Your comment about how good Americans have it bothers me.

    Yes, a landmine in your yard is better than a nuclear missile.

    Yes, 100 grams of fat is better than 1000.

    Yes, owing a thousand dollars is better than owing a million.

    Yes, you're missing the point.

  • by ivan256 ( 17499 ) * on Saturday February 12, 2005 @05:26PM (#11654171)
    I'm sorry, but a photograph of a sculpture is not a reproduction of said sculpture. If people were out making photographs of some artist's photographs you'd have a point.

    Similarly, you can take photographs of jewlery, but if you take a wax mold and make your own reproductions - even if it's of a piece of jewelery you own - you are violating the artist's copyright. Even in that case though, jewelers get around the other jeweler's copyright my creating their own similar, but not copied, pieces with only subtle differences. Unless the original jeweler has a design patent on some of the unique elements of the design, this is perfectly legal.

    The issue here is that the city wants to make money selling postcards and nobody has sued their asses yet.
  • by mcc ( 14761 ) <amcclure@purdue.edu> on Saturday February 12, 2005 @05:28PM (#11654182) Homepage

    Fuck those liberals who demand that America be the greatest country on earth. They should just sit down and learn to put up with mediocrity in all its forms.

    True patriots understand that loving America means lowering your expectations of it. If lefties actually appreciated the things that made America great, they wouldn't try to protect them from being destroyed.
  • by shark72 ( 702619 ) on Saturday February 12, 2005 @05:42PM (#11654280)

    " What happens to other publicly displayed works of art?"

    It depends on the artist.

    This is, in essence, what copyright is: the right to determine how your work is copied -- including, in the case of artwork, photographic images. It is entirely the artists' prerogative.

    "Essentially, this is like Ford telling people not to take pictures of their own cars because the designers (read: the company) still own the copyright to the design."

    You are 100% correct. That would be unworkable, so they don't do it.

    There is indeed precedent for scultors and artists to ask that their works not be reproduced commercially. About ten years back, the producers of the film "Devil's Advocate" were sued because they used a replica of a sculpture in an unauthorized manner [benedict.com].


    Perhaps. I think it comes down to whether scultures and other visual artists have the same access to copyright law as do programmers, web designers, and other professions that are more Slashdot-friendly, or if it's a "some people are more equal than others" situation. In the artists' defense, he probably asked for this restriction because he did not want to see his sculpture showing up on posters, t-shirts, and other commercial products without getting compensated.

    It's the free market that eventually decides things like this. If the city realizes that it's too much of a PITA to deal with this sculptor's requirements, then they'll never buy another sculpture from him, and word will get around.

  • Bullshit (Score:3, Insightful)

    by HermanAB ( 661181 ) on Saturday February 12, 2005 @05:50PM (#11654340)
    If anyone would bother to go to court, the city's claims will be thrown out. Photographing statues is allowed under copyright law. The photographer is NOT copying the statue. A photo is not, never has been and never will be a statue. Taking a photo of it is fair use.
  • Chicagoans (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Lord_Dweomer ( 648696 ) on Saturday February 12, 2005 @05:53PM (#11654370) Homepage
    Having spent the greater portion of my life growing up in Chicago, I have to say I am beyond outraged. This takes something that could be a great boon for the city in terms of global recognition, and turns it into what will inevitably be a class action lawsuit against the city of Chicago by Chicagoans for something so ridiculous that it would have gotten a Florida tag instead of an Asinine tag on Fark.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 12, 2005 @05:57PM (#11654399)
    Can we get I link on that story for us who never heard of Meigs?
  • by peawee03 ( 714493 ) <mcericks@u[ ].edu ['iuc' in gap]> on Saturday February 12, 2005 @05:58PM (#11654405)

    A sculpture is a much more inherently visual medium as compared to an album; therefore, I suppose one could concieveably say making a copy of the visual representation at a given point of the object would be an infringement.

    However, as an architecture student, I feel that sculpture (*especially* this one) uses space as its primary medium rather than just the visual; you can, and infact the Bean demands you interact with it in three-dimentional space to fully understand and comprehend this thing. I'd counter argue that only a holographic representation, or an old-fashioned plaster cast would be truly breaking copyright.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 12, 2005 @06:24PM (#11654569)
    Was your wedding photographer working for free? If not, then your photo session was a commercial operation and the city has every right to require licenses. You can't go to a chicago park and set up a hot dog stand without having the city's permission. Why should commercial photography be any different?
  • by bechthros ( 714240 ) on Saturday February 12, 2005 @06:29PM (#11654599) Homepage Journal
    No, the public only has the right to pay for it with tax dollars.

    Explain to me again how I can't take pictures of something I helped pay for?
  • by Dun Malg ( 230075 ) on Saturday February 12, 2005 @06:38PM (#11654661) Homepage
    I think it comes down to whether scultures and other visual artists have the same access to copyright law as do programmers, web designers, and other professions that are more Slashdot-friendly, or if it's a "some people are more equal than others" situation.

    You're reading too much into the backlash. It has nothing to do with how "friendly" sculpture is to Slashdot readers. All those "friendly" examples you give, think about replaceing "sculpture" with those types of works. Should programmers get a royalty for a photograph containing part of their source code printed out in the background that's neither runable nor readable? Should a web designer get a royalty for a photograph of one page of the web site they designed being visible on the monitor behind the subject of the picture? That makes no more sense than people being chased out of a PUBLIC PARK because they wanted to take a picture of their grandmother with that 30' shiny thing in the backgrounds. It's not about some being "more equal" than others-- it's about applying common fucking sense.

  • by ScrewMaster ( 602015 ) on Saturday February 12, 2005 @06:49PM (#11654729)
    The irony of all this is that Chicago is beginning one of the largest buildouts of remote-controlled "security" cameras in the U.S., linked by almost a thousand miles of fiber trunk. They can take all the pictures they want of us, but we can't use our cameras in what is nominally a public park.
  • by Fantastic Lad ( 198284 ) on Saturday February 12, 2005 @06:57PM (#11654804)
    I had a walkie-talkie, and a phone and I sat in a booth and told people where the washroom and movie theaters were. Yes, that guy. Yes, it sucked.

    Anyway, the reason I bring this up is this; there was a mall policy; No Cameras! If anybody was seen taking pictures, mall security would swoop down on them and prevent them. Nobody ever explained why this policy was in place, and at the time, (I was young and still learning how the world worked), I honestly didn't care. Furthermore, I got this weird thrill when I caught somebody and had the opportunity to call it in on the com-system like a three alarm fire. Everybody got a buzz off it. "But why?" "Mall policy! Are you making trouble?"

    I'm not even sure if anybody knew the reasons for this weird law enforcement. All anybody knew was that recording images was bad, bad, bad.

    Now, today I could probably think up a couple of reasons why this policy existed, but so what? It doesn't mean a damned thing. Lawyers and politicians have demonstrated time and again that it is entirely possible to come up with rational-sounding reasons for all manner of insane activities and thus get people to accept and go along with them. It happens all the time, and I'm sure everybody can think up an example or twenty.

    The point I found curious is how eerily easy it is to jump whole-heartedly onto the enforcement bandwagon for no other reason than one happens to have been given a symbol of authority. A walkie-talkie, in this case.

    Soldiers will open fire on un-armed demonstrators, their own neighbors, and they will continue to do so because humans are wired in a creepy way. The trick is recognizing this face and taking steps to navigate accordingly.


  • by prurientknave ( 820507 ) on Saturday February 12, 2005 @07:10PM (#11654872)
    A number of posters mentioned showing the world how stupid copyright was by copyrighting your lawns and designs on the house or roof. If a sufficient number of people do it, we will soon have to start paying for the many free geographic services our tax dollars are currently providing. The govt will continue gathering this data for 'strategic' reasons but little by little we will lose access to many of the services we fund.

    Copyrights like this only double-tax the society that permit it. A creator of a work should be paid when he sells his work and taxed for the security his society provides. Greed and political savvy created copyrights, an educated society may abolish them.

    One hit wonders watch out.
  • by radish ( 98371 ) on Saturday February 12, 2005 @07:18PM (#11654909) Homepage
    What I am saying is that the US and MANY other countries are/were attacked by Muslim extremists.
    So should we also be chacking up on people who look like the other terriorists who have attacked the US? Let's see. There's those washington sniper guys. They were black, so let's check up on anyone who's black. Then there's Timothy McVeigh - who was (as far as I can remember) a white christian. Better start locking up some white christians then.

    I think it's better to be over secure and have a lot of people as a false alarm then to let some real threats through and have another 9/11.

    Defending your freedoms by giving up your freedoms? Makes a lot of sense. Moron.
  • by NoMoreNicksLeft ( 516230 ) <john,oyler&comcast,net> on Saturday February 12, 2005 @07:39PM (#11655053) Journal
    It should also be noted: No sculptors have rolled carts up to the thing, pulled out their measuring tape, and tried to duplicate it... a photo isn't a copy of it. Comparing this to a master tape and mp3s, or to a oil painting and prints of it just isn't intellectually honest.
  • by Doc Ruby ( 173196 ) on Saturday February 12, 2005 @07:44PM (#11655097) Homepage Journal
    All this copyright of art, that isn't an indistinguishable reproduction, is intellectually dishonest. Every artist, every art historian, every art-aware person knows that artists are the greatest thieves of all time. Some of the greatest value of even iconoclastic art is its contained versions of prior art. That's what makes them cultural artifacts, from which they derive practically all their value. Completely copyrighting art instances is like gelding all horses.
  • by SeaFox ( 739806 ) on Saturday February 12, 2005 @07:46PM (#11655112)
    This kinda reminds of an art show/sale that occurs every Fall in my hometown. One year I was there taking pictures to the happenings and there was a woman with these great Halloween-themed dolls (scarecrows and figures with Jack-O-Lantern heads and such. She saw me framing a shot of one of the figures and started shouting at me to get away. She said I was violating her copyrights on the designs if I photgraphed them.

    I pointed out she was displaying the work at a public art fair being held in a public park so I could photograph what I pleased. She continued to argue so I let it go and left her table area.

    The most ludicrious thing was she thought I was going to steal her designs by photographing her works -which I could have just bought from her, they were all for sale.
  • Either the artist wants to be pauid twice (for the commissioning of the work, and again for photos taken of it) or SBC wants to both give away the work and keep it.

    If they wanted to charge people for looking at it, they should have made the park private and charged admission. Having donated the piece to a public park, they've got the only bite at this particular cherry they deserve.

    Unless the RIAA figures out how to DRM your eyeballs, that is. Great SciFi plot idea, but in real life pretty miserable.
  • by Grax ( 529699 ) on Saturday February 12, 2005 @09:46PM (#11655823) Homepage
    Now the trick is for the overlords to print up t-shirts that they retain the copyright for and then place their people in camera view of any event that they would like to censor.

    What if a news event would happen next to this sculpture? Could they deny coverage? If not then who decides what is newsworthy?

    I am sorry. Public sculptures, no matter how the court currently views them, should not be protected from photography. There is too much danger to freedom of speech.
  • by Ingolfke ( 515826 ) on Saturday February 12, 2005 @09:49PM (#11655854) Journal
    Put a decorated mirror in front of it, you might call it a peer-to-peer system.
  • Fair use? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Capt'n Hector ( 650760 ) on Saturday February 12, 2005 @10:09PM (#11656005)
    Although it's a bit amusing, could photographing a public piece of art, the copy of which is owned by the city be construed as fair use? After all, if I buy a copyrighted work, I am allowed to reproduce it in some manner for backup purposes. That's why ripping CDs is totally legal. Along the same line of thought, shouldn't individual members of the public be able to reproduce something that THEY themselves own for their own backup?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 12, 2005 @10:55PM (#11656306)
    BTW I also am a photographer. One that is your worst nightmare.

    I actively adverties against other photographers and call them out for STEALING the property of weddings and other events.

    I'm not as good as you, but I get more work and undermine you at every turn. I advertise that I release the copyright to the people that I get hired by so that I am not a scumbag like other photographers and attempt to STEAL their property by asserting copyright over their wedding and events.

    The great part is? Every photographer in a 3 county area hates me as people are now demanding they release copyrights to them. I started to educate them, and that education is making the rampant GREED in photographers and videographers bite them in the ass.

    Please enjoy my present that will be heading to your part of the world. clients that will DEMAND they hold the copyright of your work they commision you to do. Because there are more of us that are willing to to this for them at NO EXTRA CHARGE every day.

    There are now 5 of us here in this metro area, to the point that the thiefdom of photographers have published letter to the editor in an attempt to smear us.

    Have a great day :-)
  • by DarkOx ( 621550 ) on Saturday February 12, 2005 @11:33PM (#11656527) Journal
    1. This is a pice of public art wether it was purchased with tax dollars or given it belongs to the public. People take pictures its part of how they enjoy a thing like this, get over it. People should have a right to "use" public art anyway they want so long as it does not prevent others from haveing access to it.

    2. A photo should not be considered a copy of a sculpture. A photo is a two demensional thing the sculpture has three, they are therefore not even remotely similar. Part of the artform of sculpting is determining how the viewer will inhabit its space, that cannot even be reproduced in a photo. A photo connot preseve a sculpture in anyway other then provokeing a human memory of it.

    3. A photograph is in most cases a distinct work of art in and of itself. One form of photograpic art is called "strait photography" it was particularly popular for awhile basicly its all subject subject subject point and shoot. One work of art can't resonably infringe on another.

    4. Please see Dadaism if you don't think that anything can be appropriated and made art. In this case DuChamp's "L.h.o.o.q." is particularly appropos. If this can be recognized as its own legitimate pice of art then ANY addition to the bean here include the reflection of the photographer or the act of composeing a photograph would make any such photo its own work of art.
  • by srmalloy ( 263556 ) on Sunday February 13, 2005 @12:04AM (#11656676) Homepage
    There is a distinct difference between art held in a gallery and art put on public display. When this distinction is blurred we run into the issue of putting an unfair limitation on photographers. If the display is on public lands and the upkeep is paid for from public funds then there should be no legal impediment to it being photographed.

    The solution to this is to file a class-action lawsuit (on behalf of all the photographers in the city) back at the city on the basis that posting the sculpture in a public park and attempting to claim copyright infringement on photographs of the park that happen to include the sculpture constitutes a legal taking of the public's right to use the park, and require that the city immediately remove the sculpture, with damages to be paid to anyone who can present to the court a photograph of the park as proof of their use of the park for photographic purposes...

    Sometimes stupid lawsuits have their uses...

  • by fishbowl ( 7759 ) on Sunday February 13, 2005 @12:37AM (#11656844)
    > If it's outside, it's public domain. Period.

    Well, the artists do not automatically surrender their copyright to their creative work to the public domain, in particular. But, if the sculpture is in a public place, then you have the right to photograph it. If that right is abridged, then it can be argued that it is *not* a public place, and therefore, not a public park, and if it is not that, then it is private property where some private party may make the rules that visitors must follow -- and if it is not public property then Constitutional protections do not carry the same direct weight they would if it were.

    Now, if the People had the situation misreprented to them, that is, if it has been asserted that this is Public Property, then the rights of the people are being abridged. And if they choose to do so, they may petition for this greivance to be heard. It's up to them.
  • SOunds to me like (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Cyberllama ( 113628 ) on Sunday February 13, 2005 @03:24AM (#11657606)
    Some sort of reverse psychology:

    I think they WANT people to take pictures of it.

    This could be the most succussful advertising campaign ever. Advertisers take note, the key to make sure EVERYONE sees your advertisement is to forbid them to see it.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 13, 2005 @04:28AM (#11657857)
    Well, the problem with your idea, of course, is that all too often the slashdot summary misrepresents the facts in a manner that is intended to cause the "scream" response. This seems to be one of the features in a write-up that the editors actively seek.

The relative importance of files depends on their cost in terms of the human effort needed to regenerate them. -- T.A. Dolotta