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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 vijayiyer ( 728590 ) on Saturday February 12, 2005 @04:41PM (#11653815)
    As far as I know, anything viewable from a public area may be photographed. If the artists want to enforce copyright, they should place their sculptures in an enclosed building.
  • hmmmmm..... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by greypilgrim ( 799369 ) on Saturday February 12, 2005 @04:43PM (#11653825)
    I wonder if I can copyright myself, and then charge people to take pictures of me?

    Come on people, let's be serious, since when does taking a picture of something = reproduction?
  • by Slak ( 40625 ) on Saturday February 12, 2005 @04:48PM (#11653881)
    I was married last year in Chicago (where I reside and pay substantial property and sales taxes), and tried to take some wedding pictures at the Chicago Park District's indoor conservatory. Security stopped my bride and me from being photographed. I was outraged! And Millenium Park is worse, since it was completely overbudget and YEARS late.

    But, what do you expect from a city that send bulldozers in the middle of the night to shut down an airport?

  • My Contribution (Score:2, Interesting)

    by grendel_x86 ( 659437 ) on Saturday February 12, 2005 @04:49PM (#11653887) Homepage
    Here are my Photos of Millennium Park []. Must go take more...
  • Convenient (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 12, 2005 @04:49PM (#11653895)
    You know I bet the City of New York could place some tiny but barely visible emblem on top of some building, and then charge people royalties on photos of the Manhattan skyline. Why not? Of course you're still free to take photos of Manhattan! But you have to pay a royalty on photos of that little thingy on top of the empire state building, it's an "artwork". Oh, and it just happens that's going to be visible in any Manhatan skyline photo you take . How convenient.
  • Not unique to the US (Score:3, Interesting)

    by panurge ( 573432 ) on Saturday February 12, 2005 @04:52PM (#11653914)
    There was a case in France where a photographer make a postcard of a beach scene and the owner of a boat in the photograph sued because he had painted the boat and its number was visible, i.e. it was his copyrighted artwork. I believe the case proceeded to court, but I do not know the outcome.

    Having said that, at a personal level I get annoyed if my house or boat are photographed, especially as I know that there are pictures of them on photoblogs on the net, put there without my permission. If the taxpayer had paid for them, and put them in a public park, I really do not see I would have a case.

  • by hellgate ( 85557 ) on Saturday February 12, 2005 @04:52PM (#11653919)
    BoingBoing recently ran a story [] about the Eiffel tower. Now, because the Eiffel tower was built in the 19th century, there's an extra twist: Only the tower at night (with its recently added lighting) is supposedly copyrighted.
  • Cartman Land (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Juvenall ( 793526 ) on Saturday February 12, 2005 @04:54PM (#11653936) Homepage
    This whole thing sounds more like a PR thing then something legit. Think about it. Had there been no copyright on it, no one outside of Chicago would have cared. Now there's a huge outcry and people are posting pictures "out of spite".

    Gee, sounds like the whole "Cartman Land" marketing scheme to me.
  • by Renesis ( 646465 ) on Saturday February 12, 2005 @04:57PM (#11653954)

    This actually seems to be fairly common with new buildings and works of art in public spaces.

    I was working with some people on some new postcards and they asked me to check out the royalties on a couple of new structures in London they'd taken pictures of.

    They'd been burned when they sold postcards of the Louvre. The architect who had designed the Louvre Pyramid [] had complained and they had to pay him about 0.10 in royalties per postcard sold.

    Obviously anything over a certain age is copyright-expired, so castles etc are fair game! ;)

  • by EEBaum ( 520514 ) on Saturday February 12, 2005 @05:01PM (#11653988) Homepage
    We need a new feature on Slashdot. For each news story, there should be a "scream in horror, pain, and disgust" button. This way, whenever a story is reported where otherwise well-thinking people do something that makes no logical sense whatsoever, you can simply press the button to register your "AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRGGGGGH."

    Each thread would have a scream counter, and perhaps also rate them by severity/incoherence. Perhaps a high-bandwidth version could be introduced in which posters can record their screams, and visitors can listen to all of them together, a la "millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced."

    I bring this up because there is an increasing number of stories, like this one, where I think a good scream is necessary, but can't be made into a coherent thread.
  • by Seumas ( 6865 ) on Saturday February 12, 2005 @05:01PM (#11653994)
    Does this mean that, next time Microsoft's terraserver updates the area (seems to happen every two or three years for major cities), they'll have to pay royalties for the right to show the piece of land "The Bean" is on?
  • Publicity Stunt (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bigtallmofo ( 695287 ) on Saturday February 12, 2005 @05:04PM (#11654007)
    This was an extremely effective publicity stunt. Since I'm a contrarian that doesn't like to fall for such things, that's all I have to say on it.

    Take that, City of Chicago!
  • by VValdo ( 10446 ) on Saturday February 12, 2005 @05:05PM (#11654020)
    Try including a shot of the Hollywood Sign [] in a motion picture. Turns out, it's is not just a city landmark, but a trademarked [] brand [] owned by the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce [], which cannot be included in a distributed film without paying licensing [] fees.

    At least that's what I've read. It didn't show up in a quick trademark search for "hollywood sign" Has any other city landmark (Eiffel tower, etc.) been trademarked like this?

  • by Colgate2003 ( 735182 ) on Saturday February 12, 2005 @05:07PM (#11654033) Homepage
    You can take pictures of anything you can see from a public street or public land (as long as you are on said public land). There are specific exceptions for top-secret military installations (see 18 U.S.C. 795). Anything else is fair game.

    However, you can't sell pictures of other people's work, including sculpture and architecture, without their permission. The city is breaking the law if they won't let anyone photograph the object, but not if they are just charging people who are trying to sell their pictures.

    I am not a lawyer, but I am a photographer who knows his rights.

  • by Seumas ( 6865 ) on Saturday February 12, 2005 @05:07PM (#11654035)
    In all, about $200 million of the funding came from private contributors whose names are sprinkled throughout the park -- Wrigley Square, Bank One Promenade, BP Pedestrian Bridge, McCormick Tribune Plaza, the Lurie Garden.

    This is depressing. I would rather not have a park than have a park like this, where my city has completely sold out to build it. Using taxes to help a billionaire build a sports stadium (Paul Allen) and name it after their businesses is bad enough.

    Remember that episode of The Simpsons, where Homer went around labeling EVERYTHING? Grass, trees, roads, signs, cats, hamsters, cars, mailboxes, windows and picnic tables?

    I do not want to take my child to the Bank One public park to play on the Enron monkey-bars, next to the American Express sculpture, while I sit on a Starbucks bench and listen to the splashing water of the WalMart fountains across the McDonald's field, while families around us are feeding bread to the ducks in the General Motors duck pond.
  • by bryce1012 ( 822567 ) on Saturday February 12, 2005 @05:14PM (#11654087) Journal
    Exactly. I was so upset when I heard about poor Meigs that I swore I wouldn't visit Chicago again until there's an airport operating out there again. This is just one more reason to uphold that vow.
  • by borg ( 95568 ) on Saturday February 12, 2005 @05:30PM (#11654195)
    So, in 2000 I spent a few months in a mission hospital in Papua New Guinea. The many tribes of central Papua New Guinea (the highlands) were isolated, stone-age peoples as recently as the 1950s. It was a very interesting time, and I was struck more than once by the differences between our cultures.

    Getting to the point of the story: coming back from Mt Hagen after stocking up on supplies, I got the driver to stop the van so I could take a good picture of one of the outstandingly beautiful waterfalls that dotted the countryside. The driver warned me to be discrete, but a small crowd of villagers gathered at the base of the falls started chasing me (several of whom were young males armed with machetes). It seems that they felt that they owned the falls, and that they wanted to be paid for the privelege of taking a picture of their falls.

    At that time, it seemed to me to be one of the stranger, more un-western attitudes I had encountered.


    Well, either they were more advanced than I realized, or we're headed back to the Stone Age.
  • Re:It's official... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by KarmaMB84 ( 743001 ) on Saturday February 12, 2005 @05:32PM (#11654207)
    Isn't the artist infringing hundreds of copyrights by reflecting all thos buildings and peoples' images in his sculpture?
  • by runningduck ( 810975 ) on Saturday February 12, 2005 @05:39PM (#11654259)
    I think I am going to paint my roof and then sue the satellite imaging companies for violating my copyright.
  • by Peyna ( 14792 ) on Saturday February 12, 2005 @05:44PM (#11654299) Homepage
    17 USC 106 (Copyright holder exclusive rights)

    Subject to sections 107 through 122, the owner of copyright under this title has the exclusive rights to do and to authorize any of the following:
    (1) to reproduce the copyrighted work in copies or phonorecords;
    (2) to prepare derivative works based upon the copyrighted work;
    (3) to distribute copies or phonorecords of the copyrighted work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease, or lending;
    (4) in the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and motion pictures and other audiovisual works, to perform the copyrighted work publicly;
    (5) in the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and pictorial, graphic, or sculptural works, including the individual images of a motion picture or other audiovisual work, to display the copyrighted work publicly; and
    (6) in the case of sound recordings, to perform the copyrighted work publicly by means of a digital audio transmission.
  • by brwski ( 622056 ) on Saturday February 12, 2005 @05:51PM (#11654344)

    brkwski: Everything becomes a commodity.

    Anonymous Coward: Wrong word there. Commodity means that they're interchangeable and there's no real difference.

    Actually, no. Commodity does not only refer to "interchangable" items. Rather, it refers to items which can become exchanged in a commercial transaction.

    To ring a change on my original point: I don't mind the statue being something which can be bought or sold; instead, I find the control demanded over even the representation of that statue to be objectionable.

  • by jc42 ( 318812 ) on Saturday February 12, 2005 @06:08PM (#11654484) Homepage Journal
    Hmmm ... I seem to recall seeing lots and lots of cityscapes in the background of pictures in newspapers, magazines, etc. I rather doubt that for every picture, the publisher has searched out the owner of the copyright to the image of every building (and vehicle) in the picture. Doing that for some of the pictures would cost more than most publishers' annual profit.

    It sounds like something that is enforced for people like you and me, but not enforced for corporate publishers.

    It might be fun to search out public events that are likely to result in news photos, get your own image into a photo, and then sue the publisher when it's published. Presumably I own the copyright to my own image, after all.

  • by voidptr ( 609 ) on Saturday February 12, 2005 @06:15PM (#11654517) Homepage Journal
    How the hell can you blame the midnight raid on Meigs by the Daley administration (Democratic Mayor of Chicago) on the Bush administration? Daley tried to get rid of that airport since he took office in 1996, under Clinton. The FAA didn't know the airport was gone until the Mayor's office told them after it had been buldozed.

    The Bush administration BTW is fining the city of Chicago at least $33,000 for improper notification, and up to about 8 million for improper use of federal airport funds that were supposed to be used at O'Hare.
  • In New York City, about a decade ago, an architect was trying to charge people for taking pictures of his building. The court overturned his case, saying that it was (pretty much by definition) a public work. Not sure where to dig this up, but I read about it in the NY Times; I'm sure their dead-tree index might be helpful.
  • yes he is (Score:5, Interesting)

    by zogger ( 617870 ) on Saturday February 12, 2005 @07:30PM (#11654989) Homepage Journal
    ..that's a good point and any group who wanted to countersue for using their image as part of the artisitic expression should sue him all the way into bankruptcy. The "art" is most definetly using other folks images once they are reflected in it. Mexican standoff then, I hope it happens. I do landscaping sometimes, I should copyright all the work I do, photo it and document it, then charge people a fee to drive by and look at it. either turn their heads or pay a copyright "license to view" fee.

    This is ridiculous, absurd, insane. It's not even the least bit humorous or logical. To infringe the copyright, one would have to make a copy of the sculpture. That's what "copy" means, to make a "copy", an exact duplicate. A photo is not a copy of a sculpture, it's a reference to it at best.
  • by legirons ( 809082 ) on Saturday February 12, 2005 @08:42PM (#11655431)
    "That having been said, there's the concept of 'reasonable use' in copyright law"

    You don't even need that. It's a photograph of a 3-dimensional object. Look-up the relevant case-law, it's not covered by copyright.
  • by Stiletto ( 12066 ) on Saturday February 12, 2005 @09:00PM (#11655544)
    Do you suggest that we just let everyone go about their daily business and not bother anyone even if they look like they are doing something suspecious?

    What is suspicious about taking a picture of a landmark? Is it only suspicious if the person doing it has brown skin? What if a brown-skinned person is taking pictures of a house he's thinking about buying? Is this suspicious? Maybe he's waring a scaaaaaary black jacket!!! SUSPICIOUS YET????

    How about this: We set up a snitch phone number so nosey racists can call and beg for help because a Ay-rab looking guy is walking around on the sidewalk. Instead of notifying the police, I'll just record the messages and play it for laughs at my next party. I could probably make millions selling comedy CD's!

    American scare-dy-cats: Please turn yourselves in to the nearest comedy club. Thank you.
  • Re:Bunch of crap (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 13, 2005 @12:28AM (#11656790)
    Since the bean is so reflective, if you were to put a painting next to it, people could look at your painting in the reflection, and thus, the bean would be reproducing your art without your permission and thus it would be infringing on your copyright? How about somebody putting up a live cam of the bean? :P

Stinginess with privileges is kindness in disguise. -- Guide to VAX/VMS Security, Sep. 1984