Photographing a library's circulating art

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  • (1) Can a library photograph *original* art it has purchased from artists? Can it put these photographs in binders for public viewing (for the purpose of choosing desired art to borrow, since not all works may be available to view, due to being borrowed by patrons)? Can it put the digital photographs (or digitized versions of film-based photographs) on its web site as an online version of the binders, as well as each image being referenced from online catalog records for the various individual art works?

    (2) What are the answers to the same questions, but regarding art *prints* (that is, purchased reproductions of art works)?

    Thanks for your responses!
  • here's my take on your questions.

    Making a copy of any work covered by copyright (including art works and prints) is exercising the exclusive right of reproduction and is infringing unless excused by some copyright exemption like fair use.

    With *original art* your institution may have acquired the work through a license agreement with the artist that details what you can do with the work.

    If the library owns the art work and it is not subject to license terms, then whether or not you can reproduce the artwork as photos or as scanned images is a fair use question.

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