Wednesday, January 16, 2008


Recently I went to the Neon Museum. It’s a work in progress and a good one too. Right now it’s a fenced junkyard of old neon that represents the history of Vegas as it went from bulbs to neon. It’s a pay museum although it is a “donation.” The oddest thing however is the photo release you have to sign. It basically says that if you want to use the photos you took that you have to negotiate a fee to use the pictures you took. Personal use is o.k. but does this blog constitute publication? Do your personal images on flickr? Since the museum receives tax-exempt status, shouldn’t it allow taxpayers access to exposure of its collection? Rights management has become a central headache for our generation.

Take the recent flap about pictures of the Eiffel Tower that Kurt found on Wilipedia. Images of the tower have long been in the public domain; however, in 2003 SNTE (Société nouvelle d'exploitation de la tour Eiffel) installed a new lighting display. The effect was to put any night-time image of the tower and its lighting display under copyright. As a result, it was no longer legal to publish contemporary photographs of the tower at night without permission in some countries. It is however free to take photos in the daytime because the tower was built before the copyright laws.

Policy does not supercede laws, and where does art come into this? If they want people to come to their museum, why not let them publicize the museum? There’s been a lot of controversy about the museum’s position. So…to highlight the problem, today’s photo was taken on a public street outside the locked fenced area of the museum, technically, that makes it FREE.

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