I frankly always assumed that most museums refuse to allow photos for two
reasons; and nothing to do with copyrights:

a.-        Many years ago (most of you would not recall, flash photography
required magnesium filament containing flashbulbs, which presented a fire
hazard, and or could be ejected by a spring mechanism from cameras, and
cause potential damage; and these  were the origin of the ban; Now that no
one uses these dangerous things anymore they needed an excuse to continue
the ban so they claim that flashes can "fade the art".  (Don't know the
truth of that). 

b.-        I think it's far more because they get to sell  the postcards at
the book store of their exhibits and CHARGE for them, and your photos are


I suspect this is really about the almighty buck then  rights.





From: wikimedia_nyc-boun...@lists.wikimedia.org
[mailto:wikimedia_nyc-boun...@lists.wikimedia.org] On Behalf Of Lee
Sent: Wednesday, January 05, 2011 10:23 AM
To: New York City Wikimedians
Subject: Re: [Wikimedia NYC] Free-culture-compliant GLAM awards was: Museum
of Art and Design lifts photo ban


I like that idea.


Personally, I think patrons taking photos in museums is annoying, and I can
understand the reasons why museums would have a restrictive photo policy.
So an important thing to add to the criteria of rating museum's
"free-culture-compliance"  is the availability of images of items in their
collections through some type of creative-commons license.  This, of course,
can be weighted differently than actually being able to take photos inside
the museum.  



On Tue, Jan 4, 2011 at 11:46 PM, Liam Wyatt <liamwy...@gmail.com> wrote:

(referring to previous thread: Yes, as several people have described,
Wikimedia takes assiduous care about copyright but cannot be responsible for
contracts (formal or implied) between third-parties e.g. a museum and its

Continuing from the link that Sammy posted,
this has got me wondering if it really is viable to create a museum
photography policy list... but much more than that...

I think this could work globally, but first I'd like to see if it works in
one area and I think that New York is as perfect a place as could be found
for such a trial. 

What I'm thinking is whether it would be a good idea for Wikimedia to
sponsor the creating of a "free-culture-compliant" rating schema for
cultural organisations. If it worked properly, it could be updated and
"announced" annually with the best organisations in different categories
(National/less than 5 employees/libraries...) winning some kind of

Where I'm basing this off is Greenpeace's "Guide to Greener Electronics"
which has been running for several years now:
The deal with this is to take the public statements/policies of the major
tech organisations and rate them against a set of objective criteria. Each
year the new edition produces quite a bit of publicity e.g.

Why I like this system is that it only assesses publicly stated policies
which means it does not require a complicated/expensive assessment system or
checking compliance with those policies. Also, by reducing things to a score
it makes it easy to rate the companies which allows for simple reporting
phrases (that the newspapers and corporate management like) such as "Nokia
stays in 1st place with the same score of 7.5 [green]".

Now, imagine if we could produce an objective list of "free-culture
criteria" that are applicable to cultural organisations (including but not
limited to photographic policies) and give each criterion a weighting. We
could make the list and the assessment process public, as is the wiki way,
which would also enable other organisations to self-assess if they wanted to
(something that cannot be done with Greenpeace's closed system). Then, once
an assessment had been done on all the institutions, we would be in the
position to be able to make a press release saying (for example):
"in 2011 The Brooklyn museum is the most free cultural institution in New
York, with the Tenement museum being the most improved whist the Frick
Collection became less free over the same period." This also allows smaller
institutions to be able to "beat" the big guys at something for the first

What do you think of the idea in general? What do you think of the idea
specifically for NYC in 2011? And...before you think I'm just trying ask you
to do work, I should point out that the WMF has recently hired me on a 1
year fellowship (not yet announced) to improve our GLAM
outreach/collaboration capacity and therefore I would definitely be up for
helping to do the hard work on such a project.  

-Liam / Witty lama

Peace, love & metadata

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