[INDOLOGY] NGMCP images and copyright law

Stefan Baums baums at lmu.de
Sun Apr 10 15:01:15 UTC 2022

Dear Jonathan,

> I am not a lawyer

here is an article by someone who is:


> it is NOT possible to claim copyright on two dimensional
> reproductions of two dimensional objects (not only mss but also
> paintings for example) which themselves are not subject to
> copyright

and they do indeed come to the same conclusion as you.

> What *can* be exterted is contact rights

Yes, that is the true mechanism by which holding institutions,
collectors, and scholars with manuscript stashes keep them to
themselves. There is appently no law that says that just because
somebody has a copyright-free object or image, they have to make
it available to you.

> if I were to take, for instance, the University of Washington
> Press volumes of Gandhari manuscripts and scan the images (NOT
> the text) there is nothing they could do about it

That is true of the raw images reproduced in those volumes, though
an intellectual effort establishing a basis for copyright could
probably be claimed for the reconstructed images.

(In any case, as far as this publication series is concerned, the
UW Press has agreed to make all volumes starting with the
forthcoming GBT 7 freely available under an open-access license,
and the plan is to extend this new arrangement to the existing
volumes once their back stock has sold out.)

All best,

Stefan Baums, Ph.D.
Institut für Indologie und Tibetologie
Ludwig‐Maximilians‐Universität München

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