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How to...Copy Right

MSA FORWARD 2022, Alan Oppenheimer

As experts in the field of rights management, we were honored to be selected to present a talk on copyright and rights clearance at the 2022 MSA FORWARD Conference in Boston this May. Copyright law isn't for the faint of heart; we here at 1000Museums have learned the ins and outs so you don't have to! Born into a family of lawyers and artists, the head of 1000Museums' museum group, Alan Oppenheimer, celebrates his family legacy by working with artists and museums to clear copyright on all styles of artworks. He shares what he's learned over the years here in "How to...Copy Right."

When do you have a copy right, and when don’t you? Copyright is a complex and not well understood subject, but an important one to museums looking to increase the exposure of and potentially monetize their collections, as well as enhance their patrons' experience through retail stores and catalogs. Copyright is also critical to the artists who create the works that go into those collections.

One of the main things to understand about copyright (and your copyrights) is that owning a work of art does not necessarily mean you own the copyright to that work. Copyright initially resides with the work’s creator, but can be transferred, deeded (through a will) and licensed. It also expires. When a copyright expires (often but certainly not always 70 years after the death of the artist), the right to copy and make derivatives of the original work becomes part of the public domain and is owned, literally, by all of us. But during what timeframe a copyright is valid, and what copy rights a copyright does and does not grant (or prohibit) are all important, complex, poorly understood questions.

This session will help you answer those key questions and more, such as:
• Why should there be copyrights at all?
• What counts as a copy versus a new work of art?
• What is “fair use” and how do I take advantage of it?
• How do I obtain the right to reproduce works of art my museum owns, or is exhibiting?
• What the heck is an NFT (non-fungible token) and why should I care?

*Our apologies for the small sound blips. We did our best to clean it as best we could.

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