I received a copyright-infringement takedown notice from a lawyer from the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, to pull these three Robert Frank videos.


When I posted the videos a year ago, I made a point to credit the Museum so that interested parties could follow-up with them (and perhaps even purchase copies: only $29.95!). If I had not credited the Museum, they would never have found the videos (unless their administrators constantly search youtube for Robert Frank videos).

It may not have been “right” for me to post the videos in the first place, but I’d think a Museum would understand the educational value of having 20,000 people (worldwide) look at their (credited!) 20-year old video production about a legendary artist.

7 thoughts on “Takedown!”

  1. I got something from Frank’s lawyers a while back when I posted a scrawny little thumbnail image from the Americans on my blog. I think his lawyers really do just search the internet all day long for photos and videos and send out takedown notices. Hey, billable hours, right?

  2. Hi there,
    I follow your blog for a while now, and I just wanted to thank you for the opportunity to see those interviews.

    Since I’m a bit far away from Huston (Lisbon) these links were probably the only way I could ever seen them. Glad I did before this pull-down :)

  3. Dalton, should have cited “fair use” and sent them these:

    Fair use. It was a fair use, not an infringement, to reproduce Grateful Dead concert posters within a book. Important factors: The Second Circuit focused on the fact that the posters were reduced to thumbnail size and reproduced within the context of a timeline. (Bill Graham Archives v. Dorling Kindersley Ltd., 448 F.3d 605 (2d Cir. 2006).)

    Fair Use. A search engine’s practice of creating small reproductions (“thumbnails”) of images and placing them on its own website (known as “inlining”) did not undermine the potential market for the sale or licensing of those images. Important Factors. The thumbnails were much smaller and of much poorer quality than the original photos and served to index the images and help the public access them. (Kelly v. Arriba-Soft Corp., 336 F.3d 811, 816 (9th Cir. 2003).

    Most fair use analysis falls into two categories: commentary and criticism; or parody.

    1. Comment and Criticism

    If you are commenting upon or critiquing a copyrighted work–for instance, writing a book review — fair use principles allow you to reproduce some of the work to achieve your purposes. Some examples of commentary and criticism include:

    * quoting a few lines from a Bob Dylan song in a music review
    * summarizing and quoting from a medical article on prostate cancer in a news report
    * copying a few paragraphs from a news article for use by a teacher or student in a lesson, or
    * copying a portion of a Sports Illustrated magazine article for use in a related court case.

    The underlying rationale of this rule is that the public benefits from your review, which is enhanced by including some of the copyrighted material.

  4. Because I was bit surprised at the MFAH taking this action (most museum folks I know are uncomfortable with rigid interpretations of copyright and generally regard the millennium copyright act as a disaster) I posted query on the Museum Computer Network list (MCN-L). As might be suspected, it’s not the MFAH that’s behind this, it’s Frank himself. Here’s part of Marty Stein, the MFAH’s rights manager said:

    “I’ll jump in here since I’m from the MFAH and my office acts as the
    clearance office for copyrights for museum objects. The MFAH
    distributes the films of Robert Frank, but we do not represent him in
    regards to copyright. Mr. Frank is very protective of his copyright and
    we were asked by his representatives to make sure that unauthorized web
    use of the films was stopped. We sent C&D letters to those people who
    were posting the films at the request of Mr. Frank. It seems that
    someone had posted Mr. Frank’s films on YouTube without our knowledge or
    permission, thereby denying Mr. Frank revenue that is his due from the
    performance of his films. Even though many of us consider these films
    works of art, they are still governed by the same laws that relate to
    mass-produced motion pictures and we did what any other film distributer
    is compelled to do in order to maintain the trust of their client. We
    asked for the infringed material to be removed.”

    Suffice it to say that situations like yours are driving museum folks crazy these days. Museums are constantly stuck in the middle. The primary reason so many museums don’t allow photography is because of copyright restrictions imposed by the artists — and a lot of museums, terrified of the potential fiscal drain and loss of credibility caused by litigation will impose these no-photo zones on their entire gallery space if even a tiny handful of objects are restricted.

  5. I remember when an outraged Avedon sued some no name band in the nineties for using one of his photos on flyers posted on East Village light poles to promote one of their gigs.

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