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A dozen federal agencies are launching an initiative, the Federal Agencies Still Image Digitization Working Group, to establish a common set of guidelines for digitizing historical materials. Basing its efforts on a combination of collaborative research and combined experience, the Federal Agencies Digitization Guidelines Initiative will address a variety of issues related to the complex activities involved in the digitization of cultural-heritage items.

Two working groups have been formed, one addressing content that can be captured in still images, the other involved with content categorizing sound, video, or motion-picture film. The initiative includes a just-launched website.

The Federal Agencies Still Image Digitization Working Group will focus its efforts on content such as books, manuscripts, maps, and photographic prints and negatives. Its members include the Library of Congress, the National Gallery of Art, the National Agricultural Library, the National Archives and Records Administration, the National Library of Medicine, the National Technical Information Service, the National Transportation Library, the Smithsonian Institution, the US Geological Survey, and the US Government Printing Office. An advisory board of technical experts from industry and academia will also contribute to the initiative.

The Federal Agencies Audio-Visual Working Group, which will address standards and practices for sound, video, and motion-picture film, includes the Defense Visual Information Directorate of the Department of Defense, the Library of Congress, the National Agricultural Library, the National Archives and Records Administration, the National Library of Medicine, the Smithsonian Institution, the Government Printing Office, and the Voice of America.

The agencies began meeting in 2007 to identify common practices for digitizing cultural-heritage materials in a sustainable way. Establishing guidelines is expected to increase the quality and consistency of digitized documents and media that are made available to the public, streamline workflows and reduce costs, promote the exchange of research, and encourage collaboration across agencies. The guidelines will also provide common benchmarks for digitization service providers and manufacturers.

The website currently features two documents developed by the Still Image Digitization Working Group that are open for comment until mid-November. The first proposes a minimal set of embedded TIFF metadata for use in historical and cultural-heritage digital imaging. The second two-part document presents a taxonomy of digital-image characteristics and provides corresponding metrics and criteria to describe and validate imaging performance and quality. The website also provides a glossary of digitization terms and concepts and presents digitization-related news and events on the subject from the participating agencies.

This collaborative effort initially formed under the sponsorship of the National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program (NDIIPP), a Library of Congress–led program initiated by Congress in December 2000 to develop a national strategy to collect and preserve digital content.

Filed under: Standards and Guidelines — Tags:

For several years, Congress has been considering legislation to address issues raised by orphan works. Orphan works are works that are still in copyright, but where the copyright holder cannot be found and the rights cleared. Most recently, in September 2008, the Senate passed S.2913, the Shawn Bentley Orphan Works Act of 2008. CAA has been supporting this legislation, as a boon for both CAA’s artist and scholar members.

CAA is the nation’s largest organization representing the visual-arts communities. With its wide-ranging membership, including artists, scholars, museums, and other visual-arts professionals, CAA has been involved in discussions on orphan-work legislation from the beginning. With the assistance of anecdotes from scores of its members CAA filed substantial comments with the US Copyright Office in March 2005, identifying circumstances in which current copyright law impairs the use of orphan works in artistic and scholarly works alike and proposing a legislative approach that would balance the legitimate interest of creators, copyright owners, and users. CAA also participated in roundtable discussions held by the Copyright Office. In January 2006, the Copyright Office issued a report that cited the CAA’s comments and recommended adoption of orphan-works legislation, including conditions that would appropriately balance the interests of contemporary artists and other copyright owners with the interests of users of orphan works.

From the time that such legislation was first introduced, in May 2006, to implement the recommendations of the Copyright Office and, throughout the 110th Congress, CAA has been working with other organizations—including museums, universities, libraries, and commercial publishers, as well as the Copyright Office—in crafting orphan-works legislation. The purpose of the legislation is to amend the copyright law to allow orphan works to be used without an undue risk to the user—of statutory damages or an injunction—assuming that the user conducted a diligent search for the copyright owner and properly attributed the work as an orphan work. At the same time, CAA, with its membership of artists, designers, and photographers, has taken full account of their concerns that orphan-works legislation, if enacted, would allow bad-actor copyright infringers to avoid copyright liability. In particular, CAA is aware of fears that artists whose works cannot easily be signed, or have other identifying information attached to them, might readily become orphaned and, in this way, be used unfairly and unscrupulously, without appropriate compensation and attribution.

CAA supports legislation that would require users of orphan works to conduct diligent searches to identify and locate copyright owners as a precondition of works becoming eligible for orphan-works treatment. The search requirements that CAA supports are detailed and meaningful, but they also are not unduly burdensome. They include searches of Copyright Office records and the use of other appropriate databases and other resources. The requirement that the user conduct a diligent search, with the parameters of such a search elaborated in the legislation itself, is intended to ensure that copyright owners would not be at risk from bad-faith searches. CAA also has been working hard to ensure that, should there ever be litigation surrounding the use of an orphan work, the burden would be on the user to demonstrate that his or her search was diligent. In addition, CAA supports legislation that would permit courts to pay heed to best practices for searches that would be crafted by professional organizations, such as CAA. If the legislation is enacted, then CAA will be uniquely well-suited to develop and promulgate guidelines on best practices for searches, given the wide range of interests of its members and the wide spectrum of copyrighted works that they create and use.

Finally, CAA encourages artists to consider the advantages of registering their works with the US Copyright Office. Under the legislation supported by CAA, in coalition with other visual-arts organizations, ordinarily, for a search of an orphan-work copyright owner to qualify as diligent, the user generally should search the Copyright Office’s registration records, as reasonable under the circumstances. By registering their works, CAA’s members will be better able to protect their creative property while allowing for appropriate and lawful use under the copyright law.

For several years, Congress has been considering legislation to address issues raised by orphan works. Orphan works are works that are still in copyright, but where the copyright holder cannot be found and the rights cleared. Most recently, in September 2008, the Senate passed S.2913, the Shawn Bentley Orphan Works Act of 2008. CAA has been supporting this legislation, as a boon for both CAA’s artist and scholar members.

CAA is the nation’s largest organization representing the visual-arts communities. With its wide-ranging membership, including artists, scholars, museums, and other visual-arts professionals, CAA has been involved in discussions on orphan-work legislation from the beginning. With the assistance of anecdotes from scores of its members CAA filed substantial comments with the US Copyright Office in March 2005, identifying circumstances in which current copyright law impairs the use of orphan works in artistic and scholarly works alike and proposing a legislative approach that would balance the legitimate interest of creators, copyright owners, and users. CAA also participated in roundtable discussions held by the Copyright Office. In January 2006, the Copyright Office issued a report that cited the CAA’s comments and recommended adoption of orphan-works legislation, including conditions that would appropriately balance the interests of contemporary artists and other copyright owners with the interests of users of orphan works.

From the time that such legislation was first introduced, in May 2006, to implement the recommendations of the Copyright Office and, throughout the 110th Congress, CAA has been working with other organizations—including museums, universities, libraries, and commercial publishers, as well as the Copyright Office—in crafting orphan-works legislation. The purpose of the legislation is to amend the copyright law to allow orphan works to be used without an undue risk to the user—of statutory damages or an injunction—assuming that the user conducted a diligent search for the copyright owner and properly attributed the work as an orphan work. At the same time, CAA, with its membership of artists, designers, and photographers, has taken full account of their concerns that orphan-works legislation, if enacted, would allow bad-actor copyright infringers to avoid copyright liability. In particular, CAA is aware of fears that artists whose works cannot easily be signed, or have other identifying information attached to them, might readily become orphaned and, in this way, be used unfairly and unscrupulously, without appropriate compensation and attribution.

CAA supports legislation that would require users of orphan works to conduct diligent searches to identify and locate copyright owners as a precondition of works becoming eligible for orphan-works treatment. The search requirements that CAA supports are detailed and meaningful, but they also are not unduly burdensome. They include searches of Copyright Office records and the use of other appropriate databases and other resources. The requirement that the user conduct a diligent search, with the parameters of such a search elaborated in the legislation itself, is intended to ensure that copyright owners would not be at risk from bad-faith searches. CAA also has been working hard to ensure that, should there ever be litigation surrounding the use of an orphan work, the burden would be on the user to demonstrate that his or her search was diligent. In addition, CAA supports legislation that would permit courts to pay heed to best practices for searches that would be crafted by professional organizations, such as CAA. If the legislation is enacted, then CAA will be uniquely well-suited to develop and promulgate guidelines on best practices for searches, given the wide range of interests of its members and the wide spectrum of copyrighted works that they create and use.

Finally, CAA encourages artists to consider the advantages of registering their works with the US Copyright Office. Under the legislation supported by CAA, in coalition with other visual-arts organizations, ordinarily, for a search of an orphan-work copyright owner to qualify as diligent, the user generally should search the Copyright Office’s registration records, as reasonable under the circumstances. By registering their works, CAA’s members will be better able to protect their creative property while allowing for appropriate and lawful use under the copyright law.

The visual arts should be at the center of university life, argues Marjorie Garber, chair of the Department of Visual and Environmental Studies at Harvard University and director of the Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts. In the Ideas section of the Boston Globe, she writes that “although artists and performers are highly prized as visitors to colleges and universities, the kind of work they do has not reached a comparable importance in the curriculum.” Garber notes that art is often considered a loss leader for schools, and argues that insitutes of higher education should become stronger patrons for the arts—and should think about how artists can be better funded and integrated into the larger university experience.

Filed under: Education

Senate Passes Orphan Works Bill

posted by October 02, 2008

Daniel Barlow reports in the Rutland Herald that the US Senate passed the Shawn Bentley Orphan Works Act (S.2913); the vote took place September 26, 2008. An “orphan work” is any copyrighted work—book or other text, picture, music, recording, film, etc.—whose copyright owner cannot be identified or located. According to the bill’s author, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), orphan-works legislation in the House of Representative (H.R.5889) will most likely not be voted on until after the presidential election in November.

CAA is working hard to ensure that a final bill will include language that gives professional groups—including such associations as CAA, professional photographers organizations, and others—the ability to define appropriate guidelines for what constitutes a sufficient search for a copyright holder. This in turn will allow organizations like CAA to ensure that artists’ copyrights are protected.

Marybeth Peters, the register of copyrights at the US Copyright Office, released a statement on the eve of the vote explaining the need for orphan-works legislation. For several years, CAA has been actively involved orphan works. For other copyright issues, see the Intellectual Property and the Arts section of the CAA website.

Senate Passes Orphan Works Bill

posted by October 02, 2008

Daniel Barlow reports in the Rutland Herald that the US Senate passed the Shawn Bentley Orphan Works Act (S.2913); the vote took place September 26, 2008. An “orphan work” is any copyrighted work—book or other text, picture, music, recording, film, etc.—whose copyright owner cannot be identified or located. According to the bill’s author, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), orphan-works legislation in the House of Representative (H.R.5889) will most likely not be voted on until after the presidential election in November.

CAA is working hard to ensure that a final bill will include language that gives professional groups—including such associations as CAA, professional photographers organizations, and others—the ability to define appropriate guidelines for what constitutes a sufficient search for a copyright holder. This in turn will allow organizations like CAA to ensure that artists’ copyrights are protected.

Marybeth Peters, the register of copyrights at the US Copyright Office, released a statement on the eve of the vote explaining the need for orphan-works legislation. For several years, CAA has been actively involved orphan works. For other copyright issues, see the Intellectual Property and the Arts section of the CAA website.

On September 25, 2008, the United States Senate voted to ratify the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict. This international convention regulates the conduct of nations during war and military occupation in order to assure the protection of cultural sites, monuments, and repositories, including museums, libraries, and archives. Written in the wake of the widespread cultural devastation perpetrated by Nazi Germany during the Second World War, and modeled on instructions given by General Dwight Eisenhower to aid in the preservation of Europe’s cultural legacy, the Hague Convention is the oldest international agreement to address exclusively cultural-heritage preservation. The US now joins 121 other nations in becoming a party to this historic treaty. By taking this significant step, the US demonstrates its commitment to the preservation of the world’s cultural, artistic, religious, and historic legacy.

Although the US signed the convention soon after its writing, the Pentagon objected to ratification because of increasing cold-war tensions. Only with the collapse of the Soviet Union did the US military withdraw its objections, and President Bill Clinton transmitted the convention to the Senate in 1999. The public attention given to the looting of the Iraq Museum in Baghdad in 2003 and the looting of archaeological sites in southern Iraq during the ensuing years revived interest in the convention, and the Senate finally voted to give its advice and consent to ratification last week.

A number of understandings were established in connection with the ratification, mostly to ensure that the convention does not interfere substantially with the US military’s ability to wage war. The final element of the ratification is a “declaration,” which states that the treaty, though self-executing: (a) does not require the US government to prosecute anyone who violates the convention (implicitly meaning that such prosecution is required only if a US law is also violated); and (b) does not give individual persons a right of redress in US courts.

Peter Tompa at the Cultural Property Observer provides a summary and commentary on what happened in the Senate. CAA has posted PDFs of both the introduction of the Hague Convention to the Senate by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the ratification of the treaty, from the Congressional Record.

Statements by Hague Convention Advocates
While US policy has been to follow the principles of the convention, ratification will raise the imperative of protecting cultural heritage during conflict, including the incorporation of heritage preservation into military planning; ratification will also clarify the United States’ obligations and encourage the training of military personnel in cultural-heritage preservation and the recruitment of cultural-heritage professionals into the military. Cori Wegener, president of the US Committee of the Blue Shield (USCBS), noted that “Ratification of the Hague Convention provides a renewed opportunity to highlight cultural-property training for US military personnel at all levels, and to call attention to cultural-property considerations in the early stages of military planning. The US Committee of the Blue Shield will continue its commitment to offering cultural-property training and coordination with the US military and to increase public awareness about the 1954 Hague Convention and its international symbol, the Blue Shield.”

Patty Gerstenblith, president of the Lawyers’ Committee for Cultural Heritage Preservation (LCCHP), cited among the advantages of ratification, “Most importantly, it sends a clear signal to other nations that the United States respects their cultural heritage and will facilitate US cooperation with its allies and coalition partners in achieving more effective preservation efforts in areas of armed conflict.”

The Archaeological Institute of America (AIA) has advocated ratification of the Hague Convention for more than fifteen years. John Russell, AIA vice president for professional responsibilities, commented that “By ratifying the 1954 Hague Convention, the US has affirmed its commitment to protecting cultural property during armed conflict. The Archaeological Institute of America will continue to work with the Department of Defense to integrate the Convention’s provisions fully and consistently into the US military training curriculum at all levels.”

Since the founding of the Lawyers’ Committee for Cultural Heritage Preservation in 2004 and of the US Committee of the Blue Shield in 2006, ratification has been among their primary priorities. AIA, LCCHP, and USCBS formed a coalition of preservation organizations that submitted testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in support of ratification and worked with members of the Senate to achieve this historic step. The Statement in Support of US Ratification of the 1954 Hague Convention urging Senate ratification, joined by twelve other cultural preservation organizations, is available from LCCHP.

LCCHP acknowledges the additional assistance of the Society for American Archaeology and the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago in the effort to achieve ratification of the Hague Convention.

CAA Standards and Guidelines
CAA has advocated for the ratification of the convention for decades. CAA has also published its own Standards and Guidelines on issues related to international cultural heritage: the CAA Statement on the Importance of Documenting the Historical Context of Objects and Sites (2004), A Code of Ethics for Art Historians and Guidelines for the Professional Practice of Art History (1995), part of which addresses trafficking in works of art; and the Resolution Concerning the Acquisition of Cultural Properties Originating in Foreign Countries (1973).

Filed under: Advocacy, Legal Issues

On September 25, 2008, the United States Senate voted to ratify the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict. This international convention regulates the conduct of nations during war and military occupation in order to assure the protection of cultural sites, monuments, and repositories, including museums, libraries, and archives. Written in the wake of the widespread cultural devastation perpetrated by Nazi Germany during the Second World War, and modeled on instructions given by General Dwight Eisenhower to aid in the preservation of Europe’s cultural legacy, the Hague Convention is the oldest international agreement to address exclusively cultural-heritage preservation. The US now joins 121 other nations in becoming a party to this historic treaty. By taking this significant step, the US demonstrates its commitment to the preservation of the world’s cultural, artistic, religious, and historic legacy.

Although the US signed the convention soon after its writing, the Pentagon objected to ratification because of increasing cold-war tensions. Only with the collapse of the Soviet Union did the US military withdraw its objections, and President Bill Clinton transmitted the convention to the Senate in 1999. The public attention given to the looting of the Iraq Museum in Baghdad in 2003 and the looting of archaeological sites in southern Iraq during the ensuing years revived interest in the convention, and the Senate finally voted to give its advice and consent to ratification last week.

A number of understandings were established in connection with the ratification, mostly to ensure that the convention does not interfere substantially with the US military’s ability to wage war. The final element of the ratification is a “declaration,” which states that the treaty, though self-executing: (a) does not require the US government to prosecute anyone who violates the convention (implicitly meaning that such prosecution is required only if a US law is also violated); and (b) does not give individual persons a right of redress in US courts.

Peter Tompa at the Cultural Property Observer provides a summary and commentary on what happened in the Senate. CAA has posted PDFs of both the introduction of the Hague Convention to the Senate by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the ratification of the treaty, from the Congressional Record.

Statements by Hague Convention Advocates
While US policy has been to follow the principles of the convention, ratification will raise the imperative of protecting cultural heritage during conflict, including the incorporation of heritage preservation into military planning; ratification will also clarify the United States’ obligations and encourage the training of military personnel in cultural-heritage preservation and the recruitment of cultural-heritage professionals into the military. Cori Wegener, president of the US Committee of the Blue Shield (USCBS), noted that “Ratification of the Hague Convention provides a renewed opportunity to highlight cultural-property training for US military personnel at all levels, and to call attention to cultural-property considerations in the early stages of military planning. The US Committee of the Blue Shield will continue its commitment to offering cultural-property training and coordination with the US military and to increase public awareness about the 1954 Hague Convention and its international symbol, the Blue Shield.”

Patty Gerstenblith, president of the Lawyers’ Committee for Cultural Heritage Preservation (LCCHP), cited among the advantages of ratification, “Most importantly, it sends a clear signal to other nations that the United States respects their cultural heritage and will facilitate US cooperation with its allies and coalition partners in achieving more effective preservation efforts in areas of armed conflict.”

The Archaeological Institute of America (AIA) has advocated ratification of the Hague Convention for more than fifteen years. John Russell, AIA vice president for professional responsibilities, commented that “By ratifying the 1954 Hague Convention, the US has affirmed its commitment to protecting cultural property during armed conflict. The Archaeological Institute of America will continue to work with the Department of Defense to integrate the Convention’s provisions fully and consistently into the US military training curriculum at all levels.”

Since the founding of the Lawyers’ Committee for Cultural Heritage Preservation in 2004 and of the US Committee of the Blue Shield in 2006, ratification has been among their primary priorities. AIA, LCCHP, and USCBS formed a coalition of preservation organizations that submitted testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in support of ratification and worked with members of the Senate to achieve this historic step. The Statement in Support of US Ratification of the 1954 Hague Convention urging Senate ratification, joined by twelve other cultural preservation organizations, is available from LCCHP.

LCCHP acknowledges the additional assistance of the Society for American Archaeology and the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago in the effort to achieve ratification of the Hague Convention.

CAA Standards and Guidelines
CAA has advocated for the ratification of the convention for decades. CAA has also published its own Standards and Guidelines on issues related to international cultural heritage: the CAA Statement on the Importance of Documenting the Historical Context of Objects and Sites (2004), A Code of Ethics for Art Historians and Guidelines for the Professional Practice of Art History (1995), part of which addresses trafficking in works of art; and the Resolution Concerning the Acquisition of Cultural Properties Originating in Foreign Countries (1973).

Recent Deaths in the Arts

posted by October 01, 2008

CAA pays respect to the following artists, scholars, critics, and academics who recently passed away:

  • Tina Allen, a sculptor of influential African Americans, died on September 9, 2008, at age 58
  • Michael Baxandall, an art historian best known for transforming the methodologies of the discipline through his books, Giotto and the Orators (1971) and Painting and Experience in Fifteenth-Century Italy (1972), died on August 12, 2008, at the age of 74
  • Dale Chisman, an abstract painter based in Denver, died on August 28, 2008. He was 65
  • George Deem, a painter who cleverly reworked old-master paintings, died on August 11, 2008, at the age of 75
  • Elizabeth Eames, a scholar of medieval tiles at the British Museum, died on September 20, 2008. She was 90
  • Manny Farber, a painter and film critic whose writing had appeared since the early 1960s in the Nation, the New Republic, Film Comment, Film Culture, and Artforum, died on August 18, 2008. He was 91
  • Marian Griffiths, a longtime director at Sculpture Center in New York, died September 8, 2008, at age 86
  • Simon Hantaï, a reclusive French painter, died on September 11, 2008. He was 85
  • France Alain Jacquet, a French painter associated with nouveau réalisme, died on September 4, 2008, at the age of 69
  • Stephen A. Kliment, a former editor of the Architectural Record, died on September 10, 2008, at the age of 78
  • Paul Overy, a British art critic, died on August 7, 2008, at age 68
  • John Russell, a contributor of art criticism to the Sunday Times of London and chief art critic of the New York Times from 1982 to 1990, died on August 23, 2008. He was 89 years old
  • Petrus Schaesberg, a scholar of modern and contemporary art and an adjunct professor at Columbia University, died on September 23, 2008. He was 40
  • Stuart Cary Welch Jr., curator emeritus of Islamic and later Indian art at the Harvard Art Museum and and former special consultant in charge in the Department of Islamic Art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, died on August 13, 2008. He was 80
  • George Zarnecki, an expert on Romanesque art and a former director of the Courtauld Institute in London, died on September 8, 2008, a few days before his 93rd birthday

Read all past obituaries in the arts on the CAA website.

Filed under: Obituaries, People in the News

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Filed under: Advocacy — Tags: