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Re: Use of paleoart in scientific publications.

On 03/12/2011 08:57 AM, White, Rich wrote:
Legal action currently underway may well end up defining preparation of verebrate fossils 
as "copyrightable" work.  Casts are already copyrightable.  That being the 
case, then the holders of the copyright on preparation of vertebrate fossils, whether the 
actual preparator or his or her institution, should NOT allow commercial illustrators to 
measure, view, photograph or otherwise use those bones/skeletons for their work, which 
they will sell for a profit.  The artist should have to pay for every bone they view.  
Many museums already prohibit the photographing of their fossils for commerical use 
without a contract and payment.  That could easily be extended to artists and 
illustrators as well.

Somewhat tangential question (and probably most relevant to readers from the USA). . .how do / how should restrictions on specimen use affect specimens that don't belong to museums? - i.e., the vast number of specimens collected on federal lands that are owned by the American people. I am aware of commercial photography permits required for work on federal lands, but things get very vague once the fossils enter the museum doors (as far as I know). I've never really seen anything relevant in the fossil permit regulations (other than that the fossils are forever the property of the USA), either. Is it legal for a museum to charge a fee to photograph fossils that don't belong to them? Or as more commonly seen, is it legal for a museum to place restrictions on the usage of photographs of fossils that don't belong to them? (of course, I would also note that just because something is allowed by law doesn't mean it's ethical)

On 03/12/2011 07:33 AM, Heinrich Mallison wrote:
> Mr. Paul,
> Please, read the copyright statements - usually, all rights are
> transferred to either the publisher or a society. Take, e.g., your own
> paper in Cretaceous Research on iguanodont taxonomy: (c) is with
> Elsevier, not you. Your 1984 JVP segnoaurs paper? (c) SVP, not you.
> There are ways to retain copyright, and journals are usually willing
> to let you keep it for illustrations, if you give a reason.

Heinrich has a very good point here. . .most of us authors (and illustrators) read and sign copyright statements without really thinking about what it means (ethically, legally, and professionally). All journals (even open access ones like the PLoS journals) have a set of loopholes, clauses, and quirks in their copyright/licensing forms, all of which have positive OR negative consequences.