Is Google Art Project failing to deal with artists and their copyrights?

A preview of an article in tomorrow’s paper that is already up on the Web about artists’ copyright. Whether a painting appears in Titanic 3D or on a coffee cup, the artist owns the image — at least for 70 years after his or her death.

Whose Copyright Is It, Anyway?

By
Published: April 24, 2012

It is there in the new 3-D version of “Titanic,” as it was in James Cameron’s original film: a modified version of Picasso’s painting “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon” aboard the ship as it sinks.  Of course that 1907 masterpiece was never lost to the North Atlantic. It has been at the Museum of Modern Art for decades — which is precisely the reason the Picasso estate, which owns the copyright to the image, refused Mr. Cameron’s original request to include it in his 1997 movie.

But Mr. Cameron used it anyway.

After Artists Rights Society, a company that guards intellectual property rights for more than 50,000 visual artists or their estates, including Picasso’s, complained, however, Mr. Cameron agreed to pay a fee for the right to use the image.

With the rerelease of “Titanic,” the society wants Mr. Cameron to pay again, asserting that the 3-D version is a new work, not covered under the previous agreement….

“I don’t expect we’ll have any difficulty,” said Theodore Feder, president of the society, who contacted Mr. Cameron last week.

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