Pete Smith writes:
Near the bottom of last week's E-Sylum is a reproduction of "Diecutting at the Mint, 1794", a painting by Marcia Bush. I have two problems with this.
1. You should have identified the image and the source.
2. A painting is covered under copyright laws like publications. Paintings should not be reproduced without permission.
I don't know if your source violated copyright laws. I believe that it is still illegal to publish such an image, even if the source is a website without a copyright notice.
We've discussed this issue before, but it never hurts to review it. The quoting of text and reproduction of images in publications such as The E-Sylum is generally considered "fair use". Links to the location where the quoted material was found are always included. Web page links are generally listed and embedded directly in the E-Sylum email and archive pages; links for images are included in the description on our Flickr image archive.
In cases where I am quoting material directly from one of our sister hobby publications, the bar is set higher. As a potential competitor I need to tread more carefully, and usually ask for explicit permission in addition to simply citing the source. In the case of the Coin World photo used in this issue, I explicitly included the copyright notice preferred by Coin World.
For non-hobby publications I sometimes mention the source of images directly in The E-Sylum. Yes, I could and perhaps "should" do this for every image, but that is an unrealistic goal, especially when the found material is taken from a third source, as in the case of the Marcia Bush painting. Even if the original source is stated on the site I quote I rarely have the luxury of time to follow up before publishing.
This is a blog pulled together in bits and pieces of spare time and published for free. For thoroughly researched, annotated, edited and proofread articles, one must look elsewhere, such as Coin World and Numismatic News, where your subscription dollars pay for a qualified fulltime staff of professionals.
My only fact checkers are you, the readers. I can usually count on someone to set me straight when something is misattributed, as Pete just did in this case. When corrections arrive (usually within days), they are published for all to see in the next issue.
Should any quoted publication object, I will publish a correction and remove the offending image from our archive. However, in over a decade of publishing The E-Sylum, this has never happened. The closest instance is when we purged an image of someone I quoted. I'd taken the image from a public web site but hadn't had time to confirm its use with the subject. When asked, we purged it.
Yes, copyrights are a can of worms. Our current practice seems to be working, but reader thoughts are always appreciated. Thanks, Pete.
To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:
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