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Free access to pictures shapes human character! : A Conversation about the Future of Copyright Law

The Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek has the task of facilitating free access to German cultural heritage online and for this purpose, is creating a network of what its partners - German cultural and knowledge institutions - have to offer. One significant area of this work is the debate on valid copyright law and the question of how cultural and knowledge institutions may display their pieces online without impairing creator and proprietor interests. In September of last year, the Europeana, the European counterpart to the Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek, introduced its position paper on copyright law and demanded an update of European copyright law. A quotation follows. „Allowing cultural heritage institutions to make [their] material available on their own websites under a tailored exception will not cause harm to creators, publishers or other rights holders. Instead it would be complementary to their activities and ensure increased access to the full diversity of European Culture.” Within the framework of the conference "Shaping Access! More Responsibility for Cultural Heritage!” on 5 and 6 November in the Altonaer Museum in Hamburg, Ellen Euler, Deputy Managing Director of Finance, Law, Communication for the Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek, held a "Talk on the Future of Copyright Law". The following panellists were invited: artists Anja Jensen and Frauke Dannert, Gerhard Pfennig (formerly of VG Bild-Kunst), Till Kreutzer (legal expert), Antje Schmidt (Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe in Hamburg) and Hanns Peter Frentz (bpk). A central question of the talk was how pieces could be distributed, displayed and used online in the face of technological developments. Is conveying art and culture through cultural institutions and their digital collections publicity for the artists or should artists be compensated for this? What liberties does the "Sharing & Remix Community" need? How can there be assurance that both the interests of the creator or proprietor as well as those of the user are respected and taken into account fully? From the ninety-minute discussion, one significant aspect should be excised, namely, the perspective of institutions and creators - visual artists in this case - on the issue of displaying pictures. A further important aspect concerning how freely cultural heritage institutions could shape access online will be discussed in a subsequent talk.


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