Wikinews interviews Australian wheelchair basketball coach Tom Kyle

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Wikinews interviews Australian wheelchair basketball coach Tom Kyle

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Toronto , Canada —What experiences makes a coach of an international sports team? Wikinews interviewed Tom Kyle, the coach of the Australia women’s national wheelchair basketball team, known as the Gliders, in Toronto for the 2014 Women’s World Wheelchair Basketball Championship.

((Wikinews)) Tell us about yourself. First of all, where were you born?

Tom Kyle: I was born in Cooma, in the Snowy Mountains in New South Wales. Way back in 1959. Fifteenth of June. Grew up in the Snowy Mountains Scheme with my family. At that stage my father worked for the Snowy scheme. And started playing sport when I was very young. I was a cricketer when I first started. Then about the age of 12, 13 I discovered basketball. Because it had gotten too cold to do all the sports that I wanted to do, and we had a lot of rain one year, and decided then that for a couple of months that we’d have a go at basketball.

((WN)) So you took up basketball. When did you decide… did you play for the clubs?

Tom Kyle: I played for Cooma. As a 14-year-old I represented them in the under-18s, and then as a 16-year-old I represented them in the senor men’s competition. We played in Canberra as a regional district team. At the age of 16 is when I first started coaching. So I started coaching the under-14 rep sides before the age of 16. So I’m coming up to my forty years of coaching.

((WN)) So you formed an ambition to be a coach at that time?

Tom Kyle: Yeah, I liked the coaching. Well I was dedicated to wanting to be a PE [Physical Education] teacher at school. And in Year 12 I missed out by three marks of getting the scholarship that I needed. I couldn’t go to university without a scholarship, and I missed out by three marks of getting in to PE. So I had a choice of either doing a Bachelor of Arts and crossing over after year one, or go back and do Year 12 [again]. Because of my sport in Cooma, because I played every sport there was, and my basketball started to become my love.

((WN)) } You still played cricket?

Tom Kyle: Still played cricket. Was captain of the ACT [Australian Capital Territory] in cricket at the age of 12. Went on to… potentially I could have gone further but cricket became one of those sports where you spend all weekend, four afternoons a week…

((WN)) I know what it’s like.

Tom Kyle: At that stage I was still an A grade cricketer in Cooma and playing in Canberra, and rugby league and rugby union, had a go at AFL [Australian Football League], soccer. Because in country towns you play everything. Tennis on a Saturday. Cricket or football on a Sunday. That sort of stuff so… And then basketball through the week.

((WN)) So you didn’t get in to PE, so what did you do?

Tom Kyle: I went back and did Year 12 twice. I repeated Year 12, which was great because it allowed me to play more of the sport, which I loved. Didn’t really work that much harder but I got the marks that I needed to get the scholarship to Wollongong University. It was the Institute of Education at that stage. So I graduated high school in ’78, and started at the Institute of Education Wollongong in ’79, as a health and PE — it was a double major. So a dual degree, a four year degree. After two years there they merged the Institute of Education with the University of Wollongong. So I got a degree from the University of Wollongong and I got a degree from the Institute of Education. So I graduated from there in ’83. At that stage I was coaching and playing rep basketball in Wollongong in their team underneath the NBL I played state league there for Shellharbour. Still coaching as well with the University, coaching the university sides. It was there that I met up with Doctor Adrian Hurley, who was then one of the Australian coaches, and he actually did some coaching with me when I was at the University, in the gym. So that gave me a good appreciation of coaching and the professionalism of it. He really impressed me and inspired me to do a bit more of it. So in ’84 I got married and I moved to Brisbane, and started teaching and looking after the sport of basketball and tennis at Anglican Church Grammar School in Brisbane.

((WN)) You moved to Brisbane for the job?

Tom Kyle: Yes, I was given a job and a house. The job basically entailed looking after their gymnasium and doing some part-time teaching as well as being the basketball convener and tennis convener. I looked after those sports for the private boys school. Churchie is a very big school in Brisbane and so I did that in ’84 with my wife at that stage and we lived on the premises. In 1985 I took a team of fifteen boys from Churchie into the United States for a couple of summer camp tours which we do, and I got involved in the Brisbane Bullets team at that stage, getting them moved in to Churchie to train. The Brisbane Bullets was the NBL team in Brisbane at the time. So that got me involved in the Brisbane coaching and junior basketball. I was actually in charge of junior basketball for the Brisbane association. As part of that, I coached at Churchie as well. Looked after some things at the Brisbane Bullets’ home games. So that got me well and truly involved in that. And then in ’85 was the birth of my first son, and with that came a bit of change of priorities, so then in 1986 I moved back to Sydney. I got offered a job at Harbord Diggers Memorial Club at Harbord, looking after their sports centre. So I saw that as an opportunity to get out of, I suppose, the teaching side of things at that stage didn’t appeal to me, the coaching side did, the teaching side and the fact that you had to follow the curriculums, and some of the things you weren’t allowed to have fun, to me if you’re going to learn you’ve got to have fun. So that was my sort of enough for the teaching side, I figured I’d go and do something else, and get to keep my coaching alive on the side. So I moved back to Sydney, with my family and my young son. I had a second son in 1987, and I started coaching the Manly-Warringah senior men’s and development league teams. We were in the state league at that stage. So I had both of those teams and I was coaching them, travelling around the north of the state, and competing. We were fortunate enough we came second the year I was the head coach of the men in the state competition for our area. That gave me a whole new perspective of coaching, because it was now senior men’s coaching as well as junior men’s. We had people like Ian Davies coming out of the NBL at Sydney and trying out wanting to play with the men’s squad. Fair quality in that group. The Dalton boys came out of that program. I didn’t coach them, but Brad and Mark Dalton who played for the Kings. That gave me a good couple of years. At that stage I’d changed jobs. I’d actually moved up to Warringah Aquatic Centre in Sydney. Which was at the time the state swimming centre. And I was the director of that for a year. Or eighteen, nineteen months. In that time we held the selection criteria for the 1988 Seoul Olympics swimming. So the national championships and what they call the Olympic selection qualifiers. So we held them at the Warringah Aquatic Centre when I was in charge of it which made it quite an interesting thing, because there I got to see elite sport at its best. Australian swimming. All the swimmers coming through. Lisa Curry has just retired, and I saw her. All the swimmers going to Seoul. That gave me a good appreciation of professional sport, as well as managing sports facilities. So I was there for two years, eighteen months basically. And we’d made a decision that we wanted to come back to Brisbane. So moved back to Brisbane in 1989, to take up a job as a marketing officer at the Department of Recreation at Brisbane City Council. That was my full-time job. Meanwhile, again, I got involved in a bit of coaching. My sons were looking at becoming involved, they were going through St Peter Chanel School at The Gap, and that was a feeder school for Marist Brothers Ashgrove in Brisbane, which was a big Catholic boys’ school in Brisbane. So I started to get involved in Marist Brothers Ashgrove basketball program, and I became the convener of basketball as well as the head coach there for about seven or eight years running their program, while my boys, obviously, were going through the school. That was a voluntary thing, because I was still working for the [Brisbane City] Council when I first started. At that stage I’d also quit the council job and started my own IT [Information Technology] company. Which was quite interesting. Because as a sideline I was writing software. At Warringah Aquatic Centre one of the things when I got there they didn’t have a computer system, they only had a cash register. And I asked them about statistics and the council didn’t have much money, they said, “well, here’s an old XT computer”, it was an old Wang actually, so it was not quite an XT.

((WN)) I know the ones.

Tom Kyle: You know the ones?

((WN)) Yes.

Tom Kyle: And they gave me that, and they said, “Oh, you got no software.” One of the guys at council said “we’ve got an old copy of DataEase. We might give you that,” which old an old database programming tool. So I took that and I wrote a point of sale system for the centre. And then we upgraded from DataEase, we went to dBase III and dBase IV. Didn’t like dBase IV, it had all these bugs in it, so my system started to crash. So I’d go home at night and write the program, and then come back and put it into the centre during the day so they could collect the statistics I wanted. It was a simple point of sale system, but it was effective, and then we upgraded that to Clipper and I started programming object orientated while I was there, and wrote the whole booking system, we had bookings for the pools, learn-to-swim bookings, point of sale. We actually connected it to an automatic turnstyle with the coin entry so it gave me a whole heap of new skills in IT that I never had before, self-taught, because I’d never done any IT courses, when I went to Brisbane City Council and that didn’t work out then I started my own computer company. I took what I’d written in Clipper and decided to rewrite that in Powerbuilder. You’ve probably heard of it.

((WN)) Yes.

Tom Kyle: So that’s when I started my own company. Walked out of the Brisbane City Council. I had an ethical disagreement with my boss, who spent some council money going to a convention at one place and doing some private consultancy, which I didn’t agree with Council funds being done like that, so I resigned. Probably the best move of my business life. It then allowed me then to become an entrepreneur of my own, so I wrote my own software, and started selling a leisure package which basically managed leisure centres around the country. And I had the AIS [Australian Institute of Sport] as one of my clients.

((WN)) Oh!

Tom Kyle: Yes, they have a turnstyle entry system and learn-to-swim booking system and they were using it for many years. Had people all over the country. I ended up employing ten people in my company, which was quite good, right through to, I suppose, 1997?, somewhere in there. And I was still coaching full time, well, not full time, but, voluntary, for about 35 hours a week at Ashgrove at the time, as well as doing, I did the Brisbane under-14 rep side as well, so that gave me a good appreciation of rep basketball. So I’d been coaching a lot of school basketball in that time. And then in 2000 I decided to give that away and went to work for Jupiters Casino. Bit of a change. I started as a business analyst and ended up as a product development manager. I was doing that, I was going through a divorce, still coaching at Ashgrove, I had been at Ashgrove now from 1992 through to 2003. I had been coaching full time as the head coach, coordinator of all the coaches and convener of the sport for the school. We won our competitions a number of times. We went to the state schools competition as a team there one year. Which we did quite well. Didn’t win it but, did quite well. In 2003 my boys had finished at school and I’d got a divorce at that stage. Been offered another opportunity to go to Villanova College, which was a competing school across the other side of the river. So I started head coaching there for five years. It was there where I started to get into wheelchair basketball. It is an interesting story, because at that stage I’d moved on from Jupiters Casino. I’d actually started working for various companies, and I ended up with Suncorp Metway as a project manager. Got out of my own company and decided to earn more money as a consultant. [evil laugh]

((WN)) A common thing.

Tom Kyle: But it was in Suncorp Metway where I got into wheelchair basketball.

((WN)) How does that happen?

Tom Kyle: At the time I was spending about 35 to 40 hours a week at Villanova College, coaching their program and my new wife, Jane, whom you’ve met…

((WN)) Who is now the [Gliders’] team manager.

Tom Kyle: Correct. She was left out a little bit because I’d be with the guys for many many hours. We did lot of good things together because I had a holistic approach to basketball. It’s not about just playing the game, it’s about being better individuals, putting back into your community and treating people the right way, so we used to do a lot of team building and […] cause you’re getting young men at these schools, trying to get them to become young adults. And she saw what we were doing one time, went to an awards dinner, and she was basically gobsmacked by what relationship we had with these boys. How well mannered they were and what influence we had. How these boys spoke of the impact on their lives. It was where she said to me, “I really want to get involved in that. I want to be part of that side of your life.” And I said, “Okay, we might go out and volunteer.” We put our names down at Sporting Wheelies, the disabled association at the time, to volunteer in disabled sports. Didn’t hear anything for about four months, so I thought, oh well, they obviously didn’t want me. One of my colleagues at work came to me and he said “Tom, you coach wheelchair basketball?” I said, “yeah, I do.” And he said, “Well, my son’s in a wheelchair, and his team’s looking for a coach. Would you be interested?” And I thought about it. And I said, “Well, coaching for about 35 hours a week over here at Villanova School. I don’t think my wife will allow me to coach another 20 hours somewhere else, but give me the information and I’ll see what we can do.” He gave me the forms. I took the forms home. It was actually the Brisbane Spinning Bullets, at that stage, which was the National [Wheelchair Basketball] League team for Queensland. They were looking for coaching staff. I took the forms home, which was a head coach role, an assistant head coach role, and a manager role. I left them on the bench, my wife Jane took a look at it and said, “Hey! They’re looking for a manager! If I’d be the manager, you could be the head coach, it’s something we could do it together. We always said we’d do something together, and this is an opportunity.” I said, “Okay, if you want to do that. I’m still not going to drop my Villanova commitments, I’m going to keep that going. So that was in the beginning of 2008. So we signed up and lo and behold, I got the appointment as the head coach and she got the appointment as the manager. So it was something we started to share. Turned up at the first training session and met Adrian King and Tige Simmonds, Rollers, Australian players… I’d actually heard of Adrian because we’d had a young boy at Ashgrove called Sam Hodge. He was in a chair and he brought Adrian in for a demonstration one day. I was quite impressed by the way he spoke, and cared about the kids. So to me it was like an eye-opener. So I started coaching that year, started in January–February, and obviously it was leading in to the Paralympics in 2008, Beijing. And coaching the team, I started coaching the national League, a completely different came, the thing I liked about it is wheelchair basketball is like the old-school basketball, screen and roll basketball. You can’t get anywhere unless somebody helps you get there. It’s not one-on-one like the able-bodied game today. So that was really up my alley, and I really enjoyed that. I applied a couple of things the boys hadn’t actually seen, and as it turns out, I ended up coaching against the [Perth] Wheelcats in a competition round. And I didn’t at the time know, that the guy on the other bench was Ben Ettridge, the head coach for the Rollers. And after the weekend we shook hands and he said, “I really like what you do, what you’re trying to do with this group. And he said I like the way you coach and your style. Would you be interested if the opportunity came up to come down to Canberra and participate in a camp. He said “I can’t pay you to be there, but if you want to come along…” I said “Absolutely. I’ll be there.” So about three or four weeks later I get a phone call from Ben and he said “We’ve got a camp coming up in February, would you like to come in?” I said: “Yep, absolutely”, so I went and flew myself down there and attended the camp. Had a great time getting to know the Rollers, and all of that, and I just applied what I knew about basketball, which wasn’t much about wheelchair, but a lot about basketball, ball movement and timing. And I think he liked what he saw. The two of us got on well. And out of that camp they were getting the team prepared to go to Manchester. They were going into Varese first, Manchester for the British Telecom Paralympic Cup that they have in May, which is an event that they do prior to some of these major events. That was 2009, my mistake, after Beijing; so the camp was after Beijing as well. So I was sitting at Suncorp Metway running a big CRM program at the time, because they had just merged with Promina Insurances, so they’d just acquired all these companies like AAMI, Vero and all those companies, so we had all of these disparate companies and we were trying to get a single view of the customer, so I was running a major IT project to do that. And I get a phone call from Ben on the Friday, and he said “Look, Tom, we’re going to Varese in the May, and we’re going on to Manchester.” I said, “I know”. And he said, “Craig Friday, my assistant coach, can’t make it. Got work commitments.” I said: “Oh, that’s no good.” And he said: “Would you be interested in going?” And I said “Well, when’s that?” And he said: “Monday week.” And this was on the Friday. And I said: “Look, I’m very interested, but let me check with my boss, because I [am] running a big IT project.” So I went to my boss on the Friday and I said “Look, I am very keen to do this Australian opportunity. Two weeks away. You okay if I take two weeks off?” And he said. “Oh, let me think about it.” The Monday was a public holiday, so I couldn’t talk to him then. And I said “Well, I need to know, because it’s Monday week, and I need to let him know.” And he said, “I’ll let you know Tuesday morning.” So I sort of thought about it over the weekend, and I rang Ben on the Sunday night I think it was, and I said “I’m in!” He said: “Are you okay with work?” I said: “Don’t worry about that, I’ll sort it out.” Anyway, walked into work on Tuesday morning and the boss said… and I said I just to put it on the table: I’m going. You need to decide whether you want me to come back.” And he said: “What?!” And I said, “Well, I love my basketball. My basketball has been my life for many years, many, many hours. Here’s an opportunity to travel with an Australian side. I’m telling you that I’m taking the opportunity, and you need to determine whether you want me back. ” And he said: “Really?” And I said: “Yeah. Yeah. That’s it.” And he said: “Well, I’ll have to think about that.” And I said, “well you think about it but I’ve already told the Australian coach I’m going. It’s a decision for you whether you want me back. If you don’t, that’s fine, I don’t have a problem.” So on the Wednesday he came back and said: “We’re not going to allow you to go.” I said: “Well, I’m going. So here’s my resignation.” He says: “You’d really do that?” And I said: “Absolutely.” And I resigned. So on the Friday I finished up, and got on a plane on Monday, and headed to Varese as Ben’s assistant on the tour. Got to spend a bit more time with Tige Simmonds and Adrian and Justin and Brad and Shaun and all the boys and had a fabulous time. Learnt a lot. And then we went on to Manchester and learnt even more, and I think Ben was quite happy with what I’d done. With my technical background I took over all the video analysis stuff and did all that recording myself. We didn’t really want any hiccups so he was pretty happy with that. So after that Ben asked me if I would be interested in becoming an assistant coach with the under-23s, because the then-coach was Mark Walker and Ben Osborne was his assistant but he wanted somebody else who, as he put it, he could trust, in that group, because a number of his developing players were in that group. So that meant that I had some camps to do in June when I came back, and then in July, think it was July, 2009, went to England and Paris with the under-23s for the world championships. That was my first foray as an assistant coach officially with the Australian team, and I was the assistant coach. It was a combined team at that stage, boys and girls. Cobi Crispin was on that tour. Amber Merritt was on that tour. Adam Deans was on that tour, Colin Smith, Kim Robbins, John McPhail, all of those. There was a number of junior Rollers coming through that group. Bill Latham was on that tour. He really appreciated what I’d done there, and when Craig Friday said that he was having a family and couldn’t commit to the next year in 2010 which was the world championship year, Ben asked me to join the program. So that’s how I started. So in 2010 I attended my first official world championships with the Rollers, and we won.

((WN)) Yes!

Tom Kyle: So that was an amazing experience to go on that tour and to see what a championship team looks like under the competition of that ilk. And I was then the assistant coach basically right through to London. After London, Ben was quite happy for me to continue. I was doing it voluntarily. By this stage, 2011, I’d given up all the Villanova stuff so I concentrated just on the wheelchair and my Queensland group. And I started to build the Queensland junior program, which featured Tom O’Neill-Thorne, Jordon Bartley, Bailey Rowland, all of those sort of players. You probably don’t know too many of them, but,

((WN)) No.

Tom Kyle: They’re all the up-and-comers. And three of those were in last year’s, 2013 under-23s team. So in 2012 obviously we went to Varese then on to London for the Paras. Won silver in that. When I came back, Ben asked me to do the under-23s as the head coach, and asked me who I wanted as my assistant, so in the December, we, David Gould and I…

((WN)) So you selected David as your assistant?

Tom Kyle: Yes! Yes! Yes! I had a lot of dealings with David, seeing him with the Gliders. Liked what I saw. Plus I’d also seen him with the Adelaide Thunder. He was coaching them for a while, and I really liked the way he worked with kids. He’d also done a camp with the under-23s in 2012 because I couldn’t attend, himself and Sonia Taylor. What was Sonia’s previous name before she married Nick Taylor? […] Anyway, they did a development camp in January 2012 with the under-23s group because I couldn’t attend. Good feedback coming back from that. In the April, the Rollers had gone off to Verase, and there was an opportunity to go to Dubai with the under-23/25 age group. So David and Sonia took them to Dubai and did a good job with them, a really great job with them. So the job for the 23s came up in November 2012. I applied. Got the job. And then was asked who I would want as my assistants, and Ben told me who the other applicants were and I told him, yep, happy with both of those. David became my first assistant […] So we took the under-23s group in December. Had a couple of camps in the first part of 2013, getting ready for the world championships in Turkey in September. At that stage we got to about June, and the head coach for the Gliders came up as a full time position.

((WN)) They hadn’t had a full-time coach before.

Tom Kyle: No, it was all voluntary so John Triscari was, well, not voluntary; was getting a little bit of money, not a great deal.

((WN)) But it wasn’t a full time job.

Tom Kyle: No. So Basketball Australia decided that they needed a full-time coach, which was a big investment for them, and they thought this was the next step for the Gliders. So at the end of May, I remember talking to my wife, because at that stage she’d been on the Gliders’ tour as a replacement manager for Marion Stewart. Marion couldn’t go on a certain tour, to Manchester, so Jane filled in. And they talked to her about possibly becoming the manager of the Gliders moving forward if Marion ever wanted to retire. So in the May when the job came up I looked at it and went, well, can’t, it’s a conflict of interest, because if I put my name up, potentially Jane misses out on being the manager. Also I thought if Ben really wants me to go for it he would have asked me. He hasn’t mentioned it, so, I didn’t apply at first look at it. And then I was just happening to talk to Ben on the side about something else and he asked me if I had put in for the Gliders and I said no I hadn’t. And he asked me why, and I told him if you would have I probably would have, and with Jane. And he said Jane shouldn’t be an issue, and he said I want you to go for it. I said, well, if you’re happy, because I’m loyal to whoever I’m with, I said I’m loyal to you Ben, and at the end of the day I’d stay with the Rollers if you want me to stay with the Rollers. Because for me I enjoy doing whatever I’m doing, and I love the program. He said no, no, I want you to put in for it. So then I had to discuss it with the wife because it meant initially that would want us to move to Sydney. That was still in the cards. So Jane and I had a talk about that. And I said, look, I’d go for it on the condition that it didn’t interfere with Jane’s opportunity to become the manager. So I put in my resume, I got an interview, and in the interview I went to Sydney, and I put all the cards on the table. I said look, the bottom line is that if it’s going to jeopardize Jane’s chances of being the manager, I will opt out. And at that stage they said no, they see that as possibly a positive, rather than a negative. So I said okay, if that’s the case. It’s funny. On the day we had the interview I ran in David Gould back in the airport, because he’d obviously had his interview. And we were talking and I said: “Oh, I didn’t think you were going for it.” And he said, yeah, I wasn’t, because I don’t really want to move to Sydney. And I said, well that was one of the other reasons I did put in for it, because if you didn’t get it I wanted to make sure someone who was passionate about the Gliders to get it. And there’s a couple on the list who may be passionate, but I wasn’t sure. I knew you were, because we’d talked about it at the under-23s. So we had a chat there and I said, if he gets it, he’d put me as an assistant and if I get it I’d put him as an assistant. Because we’d worked so well with the under-23s together as a unit. And we do. We work very well together. We think alike, we both like to play the game etc. So it turns out in June I got a phone call from Steve Nick at that stage and got offered the job with the Gliders. So I started on the first of July full time with the Gliders, but I still had the under-23s to get through to September, so we had a camp, our first camp in July with the Gliders. Went to a national league round in Sydney and then we bused them down to Canberra for a camp. And that was quite an interesting camp because there were a lot of tears, a lot of emotion. It was the first camp since London. It was eighteen months, nearly two years since London [editor’s note: about ten months] and nobody had really contacted them. They’ve been after a silver medal, left. Just left. They were waiting for someone to be appointed and no one had been in touch. And all that sort of stuff. So we went through a whole cleansing exercise there to try and understand what they were going through. And I felt for the girls at that stage. ‘Cause they put a lot of work into being the Gliders, and they do all the time. But they felt disconnected. So that was an emotional camp, but as I said to David at the time, we’ve got to build this program. Since then we’ve been working through. We did the under-23 worlds with the junior boys in September in Turkey. They earned third, a bronze medal. Could have potentially played for gold, but just couldn’t get it going in the semifinal. And then we came back to the Gliders and got ready for Bangkok. Bangkok was our first tour with the Gliders, which was a huge success. Because we got some confidence in the group, and that’s one of the things we’re working on is building their confidence and a belief in themselves. Being able to put things together when it really counts. So that was one of our goals. So Bangkok was our first tour, and I think we achieved a lot there. Got a good team bonding happening there. We’ve since then been to Osaka in February, which was another good outing for the girls. Five day experience with playing five games against the Japanese. That was good. Then in March we brought them here [Canada] for a tournament with the Netherlands, Canada and Japan, and then down to the United States for a four game series against the US. And again, that was a good learning experience. Then back home for a month and then we got to go to Europe, where we played in Frankfurt for the four games, and to Papendal with the Netherlands team. We played three games there before we came here.

((WN)) So that’s a pretty detailed preparation.

Tom Kyle: Yeah, it’s been good. Pretty detailed. It’s been good though. We’re still growing as a group. We’re a lot stronger than we ever have been, I think, mentally. But we’re now starting to get to the real honesty phase, where we can tell each other what we need to tell each other to get the job done. That’s the breakthrough we’ve made in the last month. Whereas in the past I think we’ve been afraid to offend people with what we say. So now we’re just saying it and getting on with it. And we’re seeing some real wins in that space.

((WN)) Thank you!

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TD Financial to acquire Hudson United Bancorp

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TD Financial to acquire Hudson United Bancorp

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Canadian TD Financial Group has come to a deal with the regional U.S. bank, Hudson United Bancorp, to buy Hudson for US$1.9 billion. The new addition will be folding into itsMaine-based TD Banknorth, which is 51% owned by TD Financial. The acquisition will bring in 204 new branches and increase TD’s footprint to New Jersey, New York, Connecticut and Pennsylvania. In total this will give TD 590 branches, 751 banking machines and more than US$26-billion in deposits across eight northeastern states.

Hudson specialises in commercial real estate, consumer and credit card loans to individuals and businesses. The bank also had $8.85 billion US in assets at the end of it’s first quarter, on March 31. The company’s shares had been dropping in the course of the past year because of allegations of money-laundering violations and after an earnings warning, making it a good steal for TD. The acquisition will greatly increased TD’s influence in America.

This continues the recent trend for Canadian banks expanding into the U.S. where regulation on bank mergers is less strict than in their home country.

“This transaction delivers on our shared vision for growth and marks a significant milestone in TD Banknorth’s expansion strategy,” TD Bank CEO and president Ed Clark said in a statement.

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News briefs:May 05, 2010

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News briefs:May 05, 2010
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Metal Filing Cabinets

Metal Filing Cabinets

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hearswellotis

The metal filing cabinets are really a furniture piece which is used to keep documents in various folders. Presently there two different types

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Posted: September 7th, 2019 by

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Disney has high hopes for new ‘Ferb’ Christmas special

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Disney has high hopes for new ‘Ferb’ Christmas special

Monday, November 9, 2009

The Walt Disney Company has today announced the inclusion of a Christmas special in its animated comedy series Phineas and Ferb. The special, entitled “Phineas and Ferb’s Christmas Vacation,” will follow the series’ protagonists, stepbrothers Phineas and Ferb, trying to spread Christmas cheer across their city after the mad scientist Dr. Doofenshmirtz uses a machine to cancel the holiday.

Disney has high expectations for the special. On November 27, the company will stream one of the seven musical numbers that will be showcased in the special on its public radio network Radio Disney. The official special is set to air accordingly the following month on December 6, 2009, on the company’s cable network Disney XD. Soon after, it will air on fellow Disney networks Disney Channel and ABC Family.

It’s a really sweet, warm special that we’re really proud to have our name on.

The crew of the series too have high hopes for the Christmas special. Zac Moncrief, who directed the special, announced that he believes it will “go down in history as a cartoon classic.” When asked about the special, co-creator Jeff “Swampy” Marsh explained, “It’s kind of intimidating. You sit down and think, ‘This is something that’s going to live at Christmas for a long, long time.'” Dan Povenmire, the other co-founder, said of his excitement over the featured musical numbers, “[H]opefully they’ll be songs that this generation of kids will think of as Christmas songs the same way that kids think of ‘Dahoo dore’ (from ‘How The Grinch Stole Christmas‘) or ‘Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer.'”

Posted: September 3rd, 2019 by

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Asbestos controversy aboard Scientology ship Freewinds

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Asbestos controversy aboard Scientology ship Freewinds

Friday, May 16, 2008

Controversy has arisen over the reported presence of blue asbestos on the MV Freewinds, a cruise ship owned by the Church of Scientology. According to the Saint Martin newspaper The Daily Herald and the shipping news journal Lloyd’s List, the Freewinds was sealed in April and local public health officials on the Caribbean island of Curaçao where the ship is docked began an investigation into the presence of asbestos dust on the ship. Former Scientologist Lawrence Woodcraft supervised work on the ship in 1987, and attested to the presence of blue asbestos on the Freewinds in an affidavit posted to the Internet in 2001. Woodcraft, a licensed architect by profession, gave a statement to Wikinews and commented on the recent events.

According to The Daily Herald, the Freewinds was in the process of being renovated by the Curaçao Drydock Company. The article states that samples taken from paneling in the ship were sent to the Netherlands, where an analysis revealed that they “contained significant levels of blue asbestos”. An employee of the Curaçao Drydock Company told Radar Online in an April 30 article that the Freewinds has been docked and sealed, and confirmed that an article about asbestos ran in the local paper.

Lloyd’s List reported that work on the interior of the Freewinds was suspended on April 27 after health inspectors found traces of blue asbestos on the ship. According to Lloyd’s List, Frank Esser, Curaçao Drydock Company’s interim director, joined Curaçao’s head of the department of labor affairs Christiene van der Biezen along with the head of the local health department Tico Ras and two inspectors in an April 25 inspection of the ship. “We are sending someone so that they can tell us what happened, where it came from, since when it has been there,” said Panama Maritime Authority’s director of merchant marine Alfonso Castillero in a statement to Lloyd’s List.

The Church of Scientology purchased the ship, then known as the Bohème, in 1987, through an organization called Flag Ship Trust. After being renovated and refitted, it was put into service in June 1988. The ship is used by the Church of Scientology for advanced Scientology training in “Operating Thetan” levels, as well as for spiritual retreats for its members. Curaçao has been the ship’s homeport since it was purchased by the Church of Scientology.

According to his 2001 statement, Lawrence Woodcraft had been an architect in London, England since 1975, and joined Scientology’s elite “Sea Organization” (Sea Org) in 1986. He wrote that he was asked by the Sea Org to work on the Freewinds in 1987, and during his work on the ship “noticed a powdery blue fibrous substance approximately 1 ½” thick between the paint and the steel wall,” which he believed to be asbestos. He also discovered what he thought was blue asbestos in other parts of the ship, and reported his findings to Church of Scientology executives. Woodcraft discussed his experiences in a 2001 interview published online by the Lisa McPherson Trust, a now-defunct organization which was critical of the Church of Scientology.

The Freewinds regularly inspects the air quality on board and always meets or exceeds US standards.

Church of Scientology spokeswoman Karin Pouw responded to Radar Online about the asbestos reports, in an email published in an article in Radar on May 1. “The Freewinds regularly inspects the air quality on board and always meets or exceeds US standards,” said Pouw. She stated that two inspections performed in April “confirmed that the air quality is safe,” and asserted that the inspections revealed the Freewinds satisfies standards set by the United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the U.S. Clean Air Act.

Pouw told Radar that “The Freewinds will be completing its refit on schedule.” The Church of Scientology-affiliated organization Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) had been planning a cruise aboard the Freewinds scheduled for May 8, but according to Radar an individual who called the booking number for the cruise received a message that the cruise had been delayed due to ongoing work on the ship. Citing an article in the Netherlands Antilles newspaper Amigoe, Radar reported on May 6 that a team from the United States and supervised by an independent bureau from the Netherlands traveled to Curaçao in order to remove asbestos from the Freewinds.

…if the Church of Scientology claims to have removed the blue asbestos, I just don’t see how, it’s everywhere. You would first have to remove all the pipes, plumbing, a/c ducts, electrical wiring etc. etc. just a maze of stuff.

“I stand by everything I wrote in my 2001 affidavit,” said Lawrence Woodcraft in an exclusive statement given to Wikinews. Woodcraft went on to state: “I would also comment that if the Church of Scientology claims to have removed the blue asbestos, I just don’t see how, it’s everywhere. You would first have to remove all the pipes, plumbing, a/c ducts, electrical wiring etc. etc. just a maze of stuff. Also panelling as well, basically strip the ship back to a steel hull. Also blue asbestos is sprayed onto the outer walls and then covered in paint. It’s in every nook and cranny.”

Many Scientologist celebrities have spent time aboard the Freewinds, including Tom Cruise, Katie Holmes, John Travolta, Kelly Preston, Chick Corea, Lisa Marie Presley, Catherine Bell, Kate Ceberano, and Juliette Lewis. Now magazine reported that Tom Cruise has been urged to seek medical attention regarding potential asbestos exposure, however a representative for Cruise stated he has “absolutely no knowledge” of the recent asbestos controversy. Cruise, Holmes, Travolta and Preston have celebrated birthdays and other events on the Freewinds.

There is not now and never has been a situation of asbestos exposure on the Freewinds.

In a May 15 statement to the United Kingdom daily newspaper Metro, a representative for the Church of Scientology said that “There is not now and never has been a situation of asbestos exposure on the Freewinds.” The Asbestos and Mesothelioma Center notes that agencies have recommended anyone who has spent time on the Freewinds consult with their physician to determine if possible asbestos exposure may have affected their health.

Raw blue asbestos is the most hazardous form of asbestos, and has been banned in the United Kingdom since 1970. Blue asbestos fibers are very narrow and thus easily inhaled, and are a major cause of mesothelioma. Mesothelioma is a form of cancer which can develop in the lining of the lungs and chest cavity, the lining of the abdominal cavity, or the pericardium sac surrounding the heart. The cancer is incurable, and can manifest over 40 years after the initial exposure to asbestos.

“This is the most dangerous type of asbestos because the fibres are smaller than the white asbestos and can penetrate the lung more easily,” said toxicologist Dr. Chris Coggins in a statement published in OK! Magazine. Dr. Coggins went on to note that “Once diagnosed with mesothelioma, the victim has six months to a year to live. It gradually reduces lung function until the victim is no longer able to breathe and dies.”

Posted: September 3rd, 2019 by

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U.K. National Portrait Gallery threatens U.S. citizen with legal action over Wikimedia images

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U.K. National Portrait Gallery threatens U.S. citizen with legal action over Wikimedia images

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

This article mentions the Wikimedia Foundation, one of its projects, or people related to it. Wikinews is a project of the Wikimedia Foundation.

The English National Portrait Gallery (NPG) in London has threatened on Friday to sue a U.S. citizen, Derrick Coetzee. The legal letter followed claims that he had breached the Gallery’s copyright in several thousand photographs of works of art uploaded to the Wikimedia Commons, a free online media repository.

In a letter from their solicitors sent to Coetzee via electronic mail, the NPG asserted that it holds copyright in the photographs under U.K. law, and demanded that Coetzee provide various undertakings and remove all of the images from the site (referred to in the letter as “the Wikipedia website”).

Wikimedia Commons is a repository of free-to-use media, run by a community of volunteers from around the world, and is a sister project to Wikinews and the encyclopedia Wikipedia. Coetzee, who contributes to the Commons using the account “Dcoetzee”, had uploaded images that are free for public use under United States law, where he and the website are based. However copyright is claimed to exist in the country where the gallery is situated.

The complaint by the NPG is that under UK law, its copyright in the photographs of its portraits is being violated. While the gallery has complained to the Wikimedia Foundation for a number of years, this is the first direct threat of legal action made against an actual uploader of images. In addition to the allegation that Coetzee had violated the NPG’s copyright, they also allege that Coetzee had, by uploading thousands of images in bulk, infringed the NPG’s database right, breached a contract with the NPG; and circumvented a copyright protection mechanism on the NPG’s web site.

The copyright protection mechanism referred to is Zoomify, a product of Zoomify, Inc. of Santa Cruz, California. NPG’s solicitors stated in their letter that “Our client used the Zoomify technology to protect our client’s copyright in the high resolution images.”. Zoomify Inc. states in the Zoomify support documentation that its product is intended to make copying of images “more difficult” by breaking the image into smaller pieces and disabling the option within many web browsers to click and save images, but that they “provide Zoomify as a viewing solution and not an image security system”.

In particular, Zoomify’s website comments that while “many customers — famous museums for example” use Zoomify, in their experience a “general consensus” seems to exist that most museums are concerned with making the images in their galleries accessible to the public, rather than preventing the public from accessing them or making copies; they observe that a desire to prevent high resolution images being distributed would also imply prohibiting the sale of any posters or production of high quality printed material that could be scanned and placed online.

Other actions in the past have come directly from the NPG, rather than via solicitors. For example, several edits have been made directly to the English-language Wikipedia from the IP address 217.207.85.50, one of sixteen such IP addresses assigned to computers at the NPG by its ISP, Easynet.

In the period from August 2005 to July 2006 an individual within the NPG using that IP address acted to remove the use of several Wikimedia Commons pictures from articles in Wikipedia, including removing an image of the Chandos portrait, which the NPG has had in its possession since 1856, from Wikipedia’s biographical article on William Shakespeare.

Other actions included adding notices to the pages for images, and to the text of several articles using those images, such as the following edit to Wikipedia’s article on Catherine of Braganza and to its page for the Wikipedia Commons image of Branwell Brontë‘s portrait of his sisters:

“THIS IMAGE IS BEING USED WITHOUT PERMISSION FROM THE COPYRIGHT HOLDER.”
“This image is copyright material and must not be reproduced in any way without permission of the copyright holder. Under current UK copyright law, there is copyright in skilfully executed photographs of ex-copyright works, such as this painting of Catherine de Braganza.
The original painting belongs to the National Portrait Gallery, London. For copies, and permission to reproduce the image, please contact the Gallery at picturelibrary@npg.org.uk or via our website at www.npg.org.uk”

Other, later, edits, made on the day that NPG’s solicitors contacted Coetzee and drawn to the NPG’s attention by Wikinews, are currently the subject of an internal investigation within the NPG.

Coetzee published the contents of the letter on Saturday July 11, the letter itself being dated the previous day. It had been sent electronically to an email address associated with his Wikimedia Commons user account. The NPG’s solicitors had mailed the letter from an account in the name “Amisquitta”. This account was blocked shortly after by a user with access to the user blocking tool, citing a long standing Wikipedia policy that the making of legal threats and creation of a hostile environment is generally inconsistent with editing access and is an inappropriate means of resolving user disputes.

The policy, initially created on Commons’ sister website in June 2004, is also intended to protect all parties involved in a legal dispute, by ensuring that their legal communications go through proper channels, and not through a wiki that is open to editing by other members of the public. It was originally formulated primarily to address legal action for libel. In October 2004 it was noted that there was “no consensus” whether legal threats related to copyright infringement would be covered but by the end of 2006 the policy had reached a consensus that such threats (as opposed to polite complaints) were not compatible with editing access while a legal matter was unresolved. Commons’ own website states that “[accounts] used primarily to create a hostile environment for another user may be blocked”.

In a further response, Gregory Maxwell, a volunteer administrator on Wikimedia Commons, made a formal request to the editorial community that Coetzee’s access to administrator tools on Commons should be revoked due to the prevailing circumstances. Maxwell noted that Coetzee “[did] not have the technically ability to permanently delete images”, but stated that Coetzee’s potential legal situation created a conflict of interest.

Sixteen minutes after Maxwell’s request, Coetzee’s “administrator” privileges were removed by a user in response to the request. Coetzee retains “administrator” privileges on the English-language Wikipedia, since none of the images exist on Wikipedia’s own website and therefore no conflict of interest exists on that site.

Legally, the central issue upon which the case depends is that copyright laws vary between countries. Under United States case law, where both the website and Coetzee are located, a photograph of a non-copyrighted two-dimensional picture (such as a very old portrait) is not capable of being copyrighted, and it may be freely distributed and used by anyone. Under UK law that point has not yet been decided, and the Gallery’s solicitors state that such photographs could potentially be subject to copyright in that country.

One major legal point upon which a case would hinge, should the NPG proceed to court, is a question of originality. The U.K.’s Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 defines in ¶ 1(a) that copyright is a right that subsists in “original literary, dramatic, musical or artistic works” (emphasis added). The legal concept of originality here involves the simple origination of a work from an author, and does not include the notions of novelty or innovation that is often associated with the non-legal meaning of the word.

Whether an exact photographic reproduction of a work is an original work will be a point at issue. The NPG asserts that an exact photographic reproduction of a copyrighted work in another medium constitutes an original work, and this would be the basis for its action against Coetzee. This view has some support in U.K. case law. The decision of Walter v Lane held that exact transcriptions of speeches by journalists, in shorthand on reporter’s notepads, were original works, and thus copyrightable in themselves. The opinion by Hugh Laddie, Justice Laddie, in his book The Modern Law of Copyright, points out that photographs lie on a continuum, and that photographs can be simple copies, derivative works, or original works:

“[…] it is submitted that a person who makes a photograph merely by placing a drawing or painting on the glass of a photocopying machine and pressing the button gets no copyright at all; but he might get a copyright if he employed skill and labour in assembling the thing to be photocopied, as where he made a montage.”

Various aspects of this continuum have already been explored in the courts. Justice Neuberger, in the decision at Antiquesportfolio.com v Rodney Fitch & Co. held that a photograph of a three-dimensional object would be copyrightable if some exercise of judgement of the photographer in matters of angle, lighting, film speed, and focus were involved. That exercise would create an original work. Justice Oliver similarly held, in Interlego v Tyco Industries, that “[i]t takes great skill, judgement and labour to produce a good copy by painting or to produce an enlarged photograph from a positive print, but no-one would reasonably contend that the copy, painting, or enlargement was an ‘original’ artistic work in which the copier is entitled to claim copyright. Skill, labour or judgement merely in the process of copying cannot confer originality.”.

In 2000 the Museums Copyright Group, a copyright lobbying group, commissioned a report and legal opinion on the implications of the Bridgeman case for the UK, which stated:

“Revenue raised from reproduction fees and licensing is vital to museums to support their primary educational and curatorial objectives. Museums also rely on copyright in photographs of works of art to protect their collections from inaccurate reproduction and captioning… as a matter of principle, a photograph of an artistic work can qualify for copyright protection in English law”. The report concluded by advocating that “museums must continue to lobby” to protect their interests, to prevent inferior quality images of their collections being distributed, and “not least to protect a vital source of income”.

Several people and organizations in the U.K. have been awaiting a test case that directly addresses the issue of copyrightability of exact photographic reproductions of works in other media. The commonly cited legal case Bridgeman Art Library v. Corel Corp. found that there is no originality where the aim and the result is a faithful and exact reproduction of the original work. The case was heard twice in New York, once applying UK law and once applying US law. It cited the prior UK case of Interlego v Tyco Industries (1988) in which Lord Oliver stated that “Skill, labour or judgement merely in the process of copying cannot confer originality.”

“What is important about a drawing is what is visually significant and the re-drawing of an existing drawing […] does not make it an original artistic work, however much labour and skill may have gone into the process of reproduction […]”

The Interlego judgement had itself drawn upon another UK case two years earlier, Coca-Cola Go’s Applications, in which the House of Lords drew attention to the “undesirability” of plaintiffs seeking to expand intellectual property law beyond the purpose of its creation in order to create an “undeserving monopoly”. It commented on this, that “To accord an independent artistic copyright to every such reproduction would be to enable the period of artistic copyright in what is, essentially, the same work to be extended indefinitely… ”

The Bridgeman case concluded that whether under UK or US law, such reproductions of copyright-expired material were not capable of being copyrighted.

The unsuccessful plaintiff, Bridgeman Art Library, stated in 2006 in written evidence to the House of Commons Committee on Culture, Media and Sport that it was “looking for a similar test case in the U.K. or Europe to fight which would strengthen our position”.

The National Portrait Gallery is a non-departmental public body based in London England and sponsored by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. Founded in 1856, it houses a collection of portraits of historically important and famous British people. The gallery contains more than 11,000 portraits and 7,000 light-sensitive works in its Primary Collection, 320,000 in the Reference Collection, over 200,000 pictures and negatives in the Photographs Collection and a library of around 35,000 books and manuscripts. (More on the National Portrait Gallery here)

The gallery’s solicitors are Farrer & Co LLP, of London. Farrer’s clients have notably included the British Royal Family, in a case related to extracts from letters sent by Diana, Princess of Wales which were published in a book by ex-butler Paul Burrell. (In that case, the claim was deemed unlikely to succeed, as the extracts were not likely to be in breach of copyright law.)

Farrer & Co have close ties with industry interest groups related to copyright law. Peter Wienand, Head of Intellectual Property at Farrer & Co., is a member of the Executive body of the Museums Copyright Group, which is chaired by Tom Morgan, Head of Rights and Reproductions at the National Portrait Gallery. The Museums Copyright Group acts as a lobbying organization for “the interests and activities of museums and galleries in the area of [intellectual property rights]”, which reacted strongly against the Bridgeman Art Library v. Corel Corp. case.

Wikimedia Commons is a repository of images, media, and other material free for use by anyone in the world. It is operated by a community of 21,000 active volunteers, with specialist rights such as deletion and blocking restricted to around 270 experienced users in the community (known as “administrators”) who are trusted by the community to use them to enact the wishes and policies of the community. Commons is hosted by the Wikimedia Foundation, a charitable body whose mission is to make available free knowledge and historic and other material which is legally distributable under US law. (More on Commons here)

The legal threat also sparked discussions of moral issues and issues of public policy in several Internet discussion fora, including Slashdot, over the weekend. One major public policy issue relates to how the public domain should be preserved.

Some of the public policy debate over the weekend has echoed earlier opinions presented by Kenneth Hamma, the executive director for Digital Policy at the J. Paul Getty Trust. Writing in D-Lib Magazine in November 2005, Hamma observed:

“Art museums and many other collecting institutions in this country hold a trove of public-domain works of art. These are works whose age precludes continued protection under copyright law. The works are the result of and evidence for human creativity over thousands of years, an activity museums celebrate by their very existence. For reasons that seem too frequently unexamined, many museums erect barriers that contribute to keeping quality images of public domain works out of the hands of the general public, of educators, and of the general milieu of creativity. In restricting access, art museums effectively take a stand against the creativity they otherwise celebrate. This conflict arises as a result of the widely accepted practice of asserting rights in the images that the museums make of the public domain works of art in their collections.”

He also stated:

“This resistance to free and unfettered access may well result from a seemingly well-grounded concern: many museums assume that an important part of their core business is the acquisition and management of rights in art works to maximum return on investment. That might be true in the case of the recording industry, but it should not be true for nonprofit institutions holding public domain art works; it is not even their secondary business. Indeed, restricting access seems all the more inappropriate when measured against a museum’s mission — a responsibility to provide public access. Their charitable, financial, and tax-exempt status demands such. The assertion of rights in public domain works of art — images that at their best closely replicate the values of the original work — differs in almost every way from the rights managed by the recording industry. Because museums and other similar collecting institutions are part of the private nonprofit sector, the obligation to treat assets as held in public trust should replace the for-profit goal. To do otherwise, undermines the very nature of what such institutions were created to do.”

Hamma observed in 2005 that “[w]hile examples of museums chasing down digital image miscreants are rare to non-existent, the expectation that museums might do so has had a stultifying effect on the development of digital image libraries for teaching and research.”

The NPG, which has been taking action with respect to these images since at least 2005, is a public body. It was established by Act of Parliament, the current Act being the Museums and Galleries Act 1992. In that Act, the NPG Board of Trustees is charged with maintaining “a collection of portraits of the most eminent persons in British history, of other works of art relevant to portraiture and of documents relating to those portraits and other works of art”. It also has the tasks of “secur[ing] that the portraits are exhibited to the public” and “generally promot[ing] the public’s enjoyment and understanding of portraiture of British persons and British history through portraiture both by means of the Board’s collection and by such other means as they consider appropriate”.

Several commentators have questioned how the NPG’s statutory goals align with its threat of legal action. Mike Masnick, founder of Techdirt, asked “The people who run the Gallery should be ashamed of themselves. They ought to go back and read their own mission statement[. …] How, exactly, does suing someone for getting those portraits more attention achieve that goal?” (external link Masnick’s). L. Sutherland of Bigmouthmedia asked “As the paintings of the NPG technically belong to the nation, does that mean that they should also belong to anyone that has access to a computer?”

Other public policy debates that have been sparked have included the applicability of U.K. courts, and U.K. law, to the actions of a U.S. citizen, residing in the U.S., uploading files to servers hosted in the U.S.. Two major schools of thought have emerged. Both see the issue as encroachment of one legal system upon another. But they differ as to which system is encroaching. One view is that the free culture movement is attempting to impose the values and laws of the U.S. legal system, including its case law such as Bridgeman Art Library v. Corel Corp., upon the rest of the world. Another view is that a U.K. institution is attempting to control, through legal action, the actions of a U.S. citizen on U.S. soil.

David Gerard, former Press Officer for Wikimedia UK, the U.K. chapter of the Wikimedia Foundation, which has been involved with the “Wikipedia Loves Art” contest to create free content photographs of exhibits at the Victoria and Albert Museum, stated on Slashdot that “The NPG actually acknowledges in their letter that the poster’s actions were entirely legal in America, and that they’re making a threat just because they think they can. The Wikimedia community and the WMF are absolutely on the side of these public domain images remaining in the public domain. The NPG will be getting radioactive publicity from this. Imagine the NPG being known to American tourists as somewhere that sues Americans just because it thinks it can.”

Benjamin Crowell, a physics teacher at Fullerton College in California, stated that he had received a letter from the Copyright Officer at the NPG in 2004, with respect to the picture of the portrait of Isaac Newton used in his physics textbooks, that he publishes in the U.S. under a free content copyright licence, to which he had replied with a pointer to Bridgeman Art Library v. Corel Corp..

The Wikimedia Foundation takes a similar stance. Erik Möller, the Deputy Director of the US-based Wikimedia Foundation wrote in 2008 that “we’ve consistently held that faithful reproductions of two-dimensional public domain works which are nothing more than reproductions should be considered public domain for licensing purposes”.

Contacted over the weekend, the NPG issued a statement to Wikinews:

“The National Portrait Gallery is very strongly committed to giving access to its Collection. In the past five years the Gallery has spent around £1 million digitising its Collection to make it widely available for study and enjoyment. We have so far made available on our website more than 60,000 digital images, which have attracted millions of users, and we believe this extensive programme is of great public benefit.
“The Gallery supports Wikipedia in its aim of making knowledge widely available and we would be happy for the site to use our low-resolution images, sufficient for most forms of public access, subject to safeguards. However, in March 2009 over 3000 high-resolution files were appropriated from the National Portrait Gallery website and published on Wikipedia without permission.
“The Gallery is very concerned that potential loss of licensing income from the high-resolution files threatens its ability to reinvest in its digitisation programme and so make further images available. It is one of the Gallery’s primary purposes to make as much of the Collection available as possible for the public to view.
“Digitisation involves huge costs including research, cataloguing, conservation and highly-skilled photography. Images then need to be made available on the Gallery website as part of a structured and authoritative database. To date, Wikipedia has not responded to our requests to discuss the issue and so the National Portrait Gallery has been obliged to issue a lawyer’s letter. The Gallery remains willing to enter into a dialogue with Wikipedia.

In fact, Matthew Bailey, the Gallery’s (then) Assistant Picture Library Manager, had already once been in a similar dialogue. Ryan Kaldari, an amateur photographer from Nashville, Tennessee, who also volunteers at the Wikimedia Commons, states that he was in correspondence with Bailey in October 2006. In that correspondence, according to Kaldari, he and Bailey failed to conclude any arrangement.

Jay Walsh, the Head of Communications for the Wikimedia Foundation, which hosts the Commons, called the gallery’s actions “unfortunate” in the Foundation’s statement, issued on Tuesday July 14:

“The mission of the Wikimedia Foundation is to empower and engage people around the world to collect and develop educational content under a free license or in the public domain, and to disseminate it effectively and globally. To that end, we have very productive working relationships with a number of galleries, archives, museums and libraries around the world, who join with us to make their educational materials available to the public.
“The Wikimedia Foundation does not control user behavior, nor have we reviewed every action taken by that user. Nonetheless, it is our general understanding that the user in question has behaved in accordance with our mission, with the general goal of making public domain materials available via our Wikimedia Commons project, and in accordance with applicable law.”

The Foundation added in its statement that as far as it was aware, the NPG had not attempted “constructive dialogue”, and that the volunteer community was presently discussing the matter independently.

In part, the lack of past agreement may have been because of a misunderstanding by the National Portrait Gallery of Commons and Wikipedia’s free content mandate; and of the differences between Wikipedia, the Wikimedia Foundation, the Wikimedia Commons, and the individual volunteer workers who participate on the various projects supported by the Foundation.

Like Coetzee, Ryan Kaldari is a volunteer worker who does not represent Wikipedia or the Wikimedia Commons. (Such representation is impossible. Both Wikipedia and the Commons are endeavours supported by the Wikimedia Foundation, and not organizations in themselves.) Nor, again like Coetzee, does he represent the Wikimedia Foundation.

Kaldari states that he explained the free content mandate to Bailey. Bailey had, according to copies of his messages provided by Kaldari, offered content to Wikipedia (naming as an example the photograph of John Opie‘s 1797 portrait of Mary Wollstonecraft, whose copyright term has since expired) but on condition that it not be free content, but would be subject to restrictions on its distribution that would have made it impossible to use by any of the many organizations that make use of Wikipedia articles and the Commons repository, in the way that their site-wide “usable by anyone” licences ensures.

The proposed restrictions would have also made it impossible to host the images on Wikimedia Commons. The image of the National Portrait Gallery in this article, above, is one such free content image; it was provided and uploaded to the Wikimedia Commons under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation Licence, and is thus able to be used and republished not only on Wikipedia but also on Wikinews, on other Wikimedia Foundation projects, as well as by anyone in the world, subject to the terms of the GFDL, a license that guarantees attribution is provided to the creators of the image.

As Commons has grown, many other organizations have come to different arrangements with volunteers who work at the Wikimedia Commons and at Wikipedia. For example, in February 2009, fifteen international museums including the Brooklyn Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum established a month-long competition where users were invited to visit in small teams and take high quality photographs of their non-copyright paintings and other exhibits, for upload to Wikimedia Commons and similar websites (with restrictions as to equipment, required in order to conserve the exhibits), as part of the “Wikipedia Loves Art” contest.

Approached for comment by Wikinews, Jim Killock, the executive director of the Open Rights Group, said “It’s pretty clear that these images themselves should be in the public domain. There is a clear public interest in making sure paintings and other works are usable by anyone once their term of copyright expires. This is what US courts have recognised, whatever the situation in UK law.”

The Digital Britain report, issued by the U.K.’s Department for Culture, Media, and Sport in June 2009, stated that “Public cultural institutions like Tate, the Royal Opera House, the RSC, the Film Council and many other museums, libraries, archives and galleries around the country now reach a wider public online.” Culture minster Ben Bradshaw was also approached by Wikinews for comment on the public policy issues surrounding the on-line availability of works in the public domain held in galleries, re-raised by the NPG’s threat of legal action, but had not responded by publication time.

Posted: August 25th, 2019 by

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UK Wikinews Shorts: March 14, 2010

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UK Wikinews Shorts: March 14, 2010

A compilation of brief news reports for Sunday, March 14, 2010.

Posted: August 23rd, 2019 by

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Fire burns home of late singer Johnny Cash

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Fire burns home of late singer Johnny Cash

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

A fast-moving fire engulfed the home of late singer Johnny Cash on Tuesday. The lake-side home, located in Hendersonville, Tennessee, was the home of the late singer and his wife, June Carter, from the late 1960s until their deaths in 2003.

The home was purchased by former Bee Gees singer Barry Gibb in 2006, and was undergoing renovations at the time. The cause of the fire is unknown at this time, but it is believed that a flammable wood preservative that construction workers had applied contributed to the speed in which the flames spread. Firefighters responded within 5 minutes of the fire breaking out. No workers were killed in the fire, but one firefighter suffered minor injuries.

“Maybe it’s the good Lord’s way to make sure that it was only Johnny’s house,” said Richard Sterban of The Oak Ridge Boys, who lived down the road from Cash. Neighbor Marty Stewart said “So many prominent things and prominent people in American history took place in that house—everyone from Billy Graham to Bob Dylan went into that house.” The home was where Cash wrote many of his hit songs, and appeared in the Cash music video for “Hurt“.

Posted: August 23rd, 2019 by

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U.K. National Portrait Gallery threatens U.S. citizen with legal action over Wikimedia images

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U.K. National Portrait Gallery threatens U.S. citizen with legal action over Wikimedia images

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

This article mentions the Wikimedia Foundation, one of its projects, or people related to it. Wikinews is a project of the Wikimedia Foundation.

The English National Portrait Gallery (NPG) in London has threatened on Friday to sue a U.S. citizen, Derrick Coetzee. The legal letter followed claims that he had breached the Gallery’s copyright in several thousand photographs of works of art uploaded to the Wikimedia Commons, a free online media repository.

In a letter from their solicitors sent to Coetzee via electronic mail, the NPG asserted that it holds copyright in the photographs under U.K. law, and demanded that Coetzee provide various undertakings and remove all of the images from the site (referred to in the letter as “the Wikipedia website”).

Wikimedia Commons is a repository of free-to-use media, run by a community of volunteers from around the world, and is a sister project to Wikinews and the encyclopedia Wikipedia. Coetzee, who contributes to the Commons using the account “Dcoetzee”, had uploaded images that are free for public use under United States law, where he and the website are based. However copyright is claimed to exist in the country where the gallery is situated.

The complaint by the NPG is that under UK law, its copyright in the photographs of its portraits is being violated. While the gallery has complained to the Wikimedia Foundation for a number of years, this is the first direct threat of legal action made against an actual uploader of images. In addition to the allegation that Coetzee had violated the NPG’s copyright, they also allege that Coetzee had, by uploading thousands of images in bulk, infringed the NPG’s database right, breached a contract with the NPG; and circumvented a copyright protection mechanism on the NPG’s web site.

The copyright protection mechanism referred to is Zoomify, a product of Zoomify, Inc. of Santa Cruz, California. NPG’s solicitors stated in their letter that “Our client used the Zoomify technology to protect our client’s copyright in the high resolution images.”. Zoomify Inc. states in the Zoomify support documentation that its product is intended to make copying of images “more difficult” by breaking the image into smaller pieces and disabling the option within many web browsers to click and save images, but that they “provide Zoomify as a viewing solution and not an image security system”.

In particular, Zoomify’s website comments that while “many customers — famous museums for example” use Zoomify, in their experience a “general consensus” seems to exist that most museums are concerned with making the images in their galleries accessible to the public, rather than preventing the public from accessing them or making copies; they observe that a desire to prevent high resolution images being distributed would also imply prohibiting the sale of any posters or production of high quality printed material that could be scanned and placed online.

Other actions in the past have come directly from the NPG, rather than via solicitors. For example, several edits have been made directly to the English-language Wikipedia from the IP address 217.207.85.50, one of sixteen such IP addresses assigned to computers at the NPG by its ISP, Easynet.

In the period from August 2005 to July 2006 an individual within the NPG using that IP address acted to remove the use of several Wikimedia Commons pictures from articles in Wikipedia, including removing an image of the Chandos portrait, which the NPG has had in its possession since 1856, from Wikipedia’s biographical article on William Shakespeare.

Other actions included adding notices to the pages for images, and to the text of several articles using those images, such as the following edit to Wikipedia’s article on Catherine of Braganza and to its page for the Wikipedia Commons image of Branwell Brontë‘s portrait of his sisters:

“THIS IMAGE IS BEING USED WITHOUT PERMISSION FROM THE COPYRIGHT HOLDER.”
“This image is copyright material and must not be reproduced in any way without permission of the copyright holder. Under current UK copyright law, there is copyright in skilfully executed photographs of ex-copyright works, such as this painting of Catherine de Braganza.
The original painting belongs to the National Portrait Gallery, London. For copies, and permission to reproduce the image, please contact the Gallery at picturelibrary@npg.org.uk or via our website at www.npg.org.uk”

Other, later, edits, made on the day that NPG’s solicitors contacted Coetzee and drawn to the NPG’s attention by Wikinews, are currently the subject of an internal investigation within the NPG.

Coetzee published the contents of the letter on Saturday July 11, the letter itself being dated the previous day. It had been sent electronically to an email address associated with his Wikimedia Commons user account. The NPG’s solicitors had mailed the letter from an account in the name “Amisquitta”. This account was blocked shortly after by a user with access to the user blocking tool, citing a long standing Wikipedia policy that the making of legal threats and creation of a hostile environment is generally inconsistent with editing access and is an inappropriate means of resolving user disputes.

The policy, initially created on Commons’ sister website in June 2004, is also intended to protect all parties involved in a legal dispute, by ensuring that their legal communications go through proper channels, and not through a wiki that is open to editing by other members of the public. It was originally formulated primarily to address legal action for libel. In October 2004 it was noted that there was “no consensus” whether legal threats related to copyright infringement would be covered but by the end of 2006 the policy had reached a consensus that such threats (as opposed to polite complaints) were not compatible with editing access while a legal matter was unresolved. Commons’ own website states that “[accounts] used primarily to create a hostile environment for another user may be blocked”.

In a further response, Gregory Maxwell, a volunteer administrator on Wikimedia Commons, made a formal request to the editorial community that Coetzee’s access to administrator tools on Commons should be revoked due to the prevailing circumstances. Maxwell noted that Coetzee “[did] not have the technically ability to permanently delete images”, but stated that Coetzee’s potential legal situation created a conflict of interest.

Sixteen minutes after Maxwell’s request, Coetzee’s “administrator” privileges were removed by a user in response to the request. Coetzee retains “administrator” privileges on the English-language Wikipedia, since none of the images exist on Wikipedia’s own website and therefore no conflict of interest exists on that site.

Legally, the central issue upon which the case depends is that copyright laws vary between countries. Under United States case law, where both the website and Coetzee are located, a photograph of a non-copyrighted two-dimensional picture (such as a very old portrait) is not capable of being copyrighted, and it may be freely distributed and used by anyone. Under UK law that point has not yet been decided, and the Gallery’s solicitors state that such photographs could potentially be subject to copyright in that country.

One major legal point upon which a case would hinge, should the NPG proceed to court, is a question of originality. The U.K.’s Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 defines in ¶ 1(a) that copyright is a right that subsists in “original literary, dramatic, musical or artistic works” (emphasis added). The legal concept of originality here involves the simple origination of a work from an author, and does not include the notions of novelty or innovation that is often associated with the non-legal meaning of the word.

Whether an exact photographic reproduction of a work is an original work will be a point at issue. The NPG asserts that an exact photographic reproduction of a copyrighted work in another medium constitutes an original work, and this would be the basis for its action against Coetzee. This view has some support in U.K. case law. The decision of Walter v Lane held that exact transcriptions of speeches by journalists, in shorthand on reporter’s notepads, were original works, and thus copyrightable in themselves. The opinion by Hugh Laddie, Justice Laddie, in his book The Modern Law of Copyright, points out that photographs lie on a continuum, and that photographs can be simple copies, derivative works, or original works:

“[…] it is submitted that a person who makes a photograph merely by placing a drawing or painting on the glass of a photocopying machine and pressing the button gets no copyright at all; but he might get a copyright if he employed skill and labour in assembling the thing to be photocopied, as where he made a montage.”

Various aspects of this continuum have already been explored in the courts. Justice Neuberger, in the decision at Antiquesportfolio.com v Rodney Fitch & Co. held that a photograph of a three-dimensional object would be copyrightable if some exercise of judgement of the photographer in matters of angle, lighting, film speed, and focus were involved. That exercise would create an original work. Justice Oliver similarly held, in Interlego v Tyco Industries, that “[i]t takes great skill, judgement and labour to produce a good copy by painting or to produce an enlarged photograph from a positive print, but no-one would reasonably contend that the copy, painting, or enlargement was an ‘original’ artistic work in which the copier is entitled to claim copyright. Skill, labour or judgement merely in the process of copying cannot confer originality.”.

In 2000 the Museums Copyright Group, a copyright lobbying group, commissioned a report and legal opinion on the implications of the Bridgeman case for the UK, which stated:

“Revenue raised from reproduction fees and licensing is vital to museums to support their primary educational and curatorial objectives. Museums also rely on copyright in photographs of works of art to protect their collections from inaccurate reproduction and captioning… as a matter of principle, a photograph of an artistic work can qualify for copyright protection in English law”. The report concluded by advocating that “museums must continue to lobby” to protect their interests, to prevent inferior quality images of their collections being distributed, and “not least to protect a vital source of income”.

Several people and organizations in the U.K. have been awaiting a test case that directly addresses the issue of copyrightability of exact photographic reproductions of works in other media. The commonly cited legal case Bridgeman Art Library v. Corel Corp. found that there is no originality where the aim and the result is a faithful and exact reproduction of the original work. The case was heard twice in New York, once applying UK law and once applying US law. It cited the prior UK case of Interlego v Tyco Industries (1988) in which Lord Oliver stated that “Skill, labour or judgement merely in the process of copying cannot confer originality.”

“What is important about a drawing is what is visually significant and the re-drawing of an existing drawing […] does not make it an original artistic work, however much labour and skill may have gone into the process of reproduction […]”

The Interlego judgement had itself drawn upon another UK case two years earlier, Coca-Cola Go’s Applications, in which the House of Lords drew attention to the “undesirability” of plaintiffs seeking to expand intellectual property law beyond the purpose of its creation in order to create an “undeserving monopoly”. It commented on this, that “To accord an independent artistic copyright to every such reproduction would be to enable the period of artistic copyright in what is, essentially, the same work to be extended indefinitely… ”

The Bridgeman case concluded that whether under UK or US law, such reproductions of copyright-expired material were not capable of being copyrighted.

The unsuccessful plaintiff, Bridgeman Art Library, stated in 2006 in written evidence to the House of Commons Committee on Culture, Media and Sport that it was “looking for a similar test case in the U.K. or Europe to fight which would strengthen our position”.

The National Portrait Gallery is a non-departmental public body based in London England and sponsored by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. Founded in 1856, it houses a collection of portraits of historically important and famous British people. The gallery contains more than 11,000 portraits and 7,000 light-sensitive works in its Primary Collection, 320,000 in the Reference Collection, over 200,000 pictures and negatives in the Photographs Collection and a library of around 35,000 books and manuscripts. (More on the National Portrait Gallery here)

The gallery’s solicitors are Farrer & Co LLP, of London. Farrer’s clients have notably included the British Royal Family, in a case related to extracts from letters sent by Diana, Princess of Wales which were published in a book by ex-butler Paul Burrell. (In that case, the claim was deemed unlikely to succeed, as the extracts were not likely to be in breach of copyright law.)

Farrer & Co have close ties with industry interest groups related to copyright law. Peter Wienand, Head of Intellectual Property at Farrer & Co., is a member of the Executive body of the Museums Copyright Group, which is chaired by Tom Morgan, Head of Rights and Reproductions at the National Portrait Gallery. The Museums Copyright Group acts as a lobbying organization for “the interests and activities of museums and galleries in the area of [intellectual property rights]”, which reacted strongly against the Bridgeman Art Library v. Corel Corp. case.

Wikimedia Commons is a repository of images, media, and other material free for use by anyone in the world. It is operated by a community of 21,000 active volunteers, with specialist rights such as deletion and blocking restricted to around 270 experienced users in the community (known as “administrators”) who are trusted by the community to use them to enact the wishes and policies of the community. Commons is hosted by the Wikimedia Foundation, a charitable body whose mission is to make available free knowledge and historic and other material which is legally distributable under US law. (More on Commons here)

The legal threat also sparked discussions of moral issues and issues of public policy in several Internet discussion fora, including Slashdot, over the weekend. One major public policy issue relates to how the public domain should be preserved.

Some of the public policy debate over the weekend has echoed earlier opinions presented by Kenneth Hamma, the executive director for Digital Policy at the J. Paul Getty Trust. Writing in D-Lib Magazine in November 2005, Hamma observed:

“Art museums and many other collecting institutions in this country hold a trove of public-domain works of art. These are works whose age precludes continued protection under copyright law. The works are the result of and evidence for human creativity over thousands of years, an activity museums celebrate by their very existence. For reasons that seem too frequently unexamined, many museums erect barriers that contribute to keeping quality images of public domain works out of the hands of the general public, of educators, and of the general milieu of creativity. In restricting access, art museums effectively take a stand against the creativity they otherwise celebrate. This conflict arises as a result of the widely accepted practice of asserting rights in the images that the museums make of the public domain works of art in their collections.”

He also stated:

“This resistance to free and unfettered access may well result from a seemingly well-grounded concern: many museums assume that an important part of their core business is the acquisition and management of rights in art works to maximum return on investment. That might be true in the case of the recording industry, but it should not be true for nonprofit institutions holding public domain art works; it is not even their secondary business. Indeed, restricting access seems all the more inappropriate when measured against a museum’s mission — a responsibility to provide public access. Their charitable, financial, and tax-exempt status demands such. The assertion of rights in public domain works of art — images that at their best closely replicate the values of the original work — differs in almost every way from the rights managed by the recording industry. Because museums and other similar collecting institutions are part of the private nonprofit sector, the obligation to treat assets as held in public trust should replace the for-profit goal. To do otherwise, undermines the very nature of what such institutions were created to do.”

Hamma observed in 2005 that “[w]hile examples of museums chasing down digital image miscreants are rare to non-existent, the expectation that museums might do so has had a stultifying effect on the development of digital image libraries for teaching and research.”

The NPG, which has been taking action with respect to these images since at least 2005, is a public body. It was established by Act of Parliament, the current Act being the Museums and Galleries Act 1992. In that Act, the NPG Board of Trustees is charged with maintaining “a collection of portraits of the most eminent persons in British history, of other works of art relevant to portraiture and of documents relating to those portraits and other works of art”. It also has the tasks of “secur[ing] that the portraits are exhibited to the public” and “generally promot[ing] the public’s enjoyment and understanding of portraiture of British persons and British history through portraiture both by means of the Board’s collection and by such other means as they consider appropriate”.

Several commentators have questioned how the NPG’s statutory goals align with its threat of legal action. Mike Masnick, founder of Techdirt, asked “The people who run the Gallery should be ashamed of themselves. They ought to go back and read their own mission statement[. …] How, exactly, does suing someone for getting those portraits more attention achieve that goal?” (external link Masnick’s). L. Sutherland of Bigmouthmedia asked “As the paintings of the NPG technically belong to the nation, does that mean that they should also belong to anyone that has access to a computer?”

Other public policy debates that have been sparked have included the applicability of U.K. courts, and U.K. law, to the actions of a U.S. citizen, residing in the U.S., uploading files to servers hosted in the U.S.. Two major schools of thought have emerged. Both see the issue as encroachment of one legal system upon another. But they differ as to which system is encroaching. One view is that the free culture movement is attempting to impose the values and laws of the U.S. legal system, including its case law such as Bridgeman Art Library v. Corel Corp., upon the rest of the world. Another view is that a U.K. institution is attempting to control, through legal action, the actions of a U.S. citizen on U.S. soil.

David Gerard, former Press Officer for Wikimedia UK, the U.K. chapter of the Wikimedia Foundation, which has been involved with the “Wikipedia Loves Art” contest to create free content photographs of exhibits at the Victoria and Albert Museum, stated on Slashdot that “The NPG actually acknowledges in their letter that the poster’s actions were entirely legal in America, and that they’re making a threat just because they think they can. The Wikimedia community and the WMF are absolutely on the side of these public domain images remaining in the public domain. The NPG will be getting radioactive publicity from this. Imagine the NPG being known to American tourists as somewhere that sues Americans just because it thinks it can.”

Benjamin Crowell, a physics teacher at Fullerton College in California, stated that he had received a letter from the Copyright Officer at the NPG in 2004, with respect to the picture of the portrait of Isaac Newton used in his physics textbooks, that he publishes in the U.S. under a free content copyright licence, to which he had replied with a pointer to Bridgeman Art Library v. Corel Corp..

The Wikimedia Foundation takes a similar stance. Erik Möller, the Deputy Director of the US-based Wikimedia Foundation wrote in 2008 that “we’ve consistently held that faithful reproductions of two-dimensional public domain works which are nothing more than reproductions should be considered public domain for licensing purposes”.

Contacted over the weekend, the NPG issued a statement to Wikinews:

“The National Portrait Gallery is very strongly committed to giving access to its Collection. In the past five years the Gallery has spent around £1 million digitising its Collection to make it widely available for study and enjoyment. We have so far made available on our website more than 60,000 digital images, which have attracted millions of users, and we believe this extensive programme is of great public benefit.
“The Gallery supports Wikipedia in its aim of making knowledge widely available and we would be happy for the site to use our low-resolution images, sufficient for most forms of public access, subject to safeguards. However, in March 2009 over 3000 high-resolution files were appropriated from the National Portrait Gallery website and published on Wikipedia without permission.
“The Gallery is very concerned that potential loss of licensing income from the high-resolution files threatens its ability to reinvest in its digitisation programme and so make further images available. It is one of the Gallery’s primary purposes to make as much of the Collection available as possible for the public to view.
“Digitisation involves huge costs including research, cataloguing, conservation and highly-skilled photography. Images then need to be made available on the Gallery website as part of a structured and authoritative database. To date, Wikipedia has not responded to our requests to discuss the issue and so the National Portrait Gallery has been obliged to issue a lawyer’s letter. The Gallery remains willing to enter into a dialogue with Wikipedia.

In fact, Matthew Bailey, the Gallery’s (then) Assistant Picture Library Manager, had already once been in a similar dialogue. Ryan Kaldari, an amateur photographer from Nashville, Tennessee, who also volunteers at the Wikimedia Commons, states that he was in correspondence with Bailey in October 2006. In that correspondence, according to Kaldari, he and Bailey failed to conclude any arrangement.

Jay Walsh, the Head of Communications for the Wikimedia Foundation, which hosts the Commons, called the gallery’s actions “unfortunate” in the Foundation’s statement, issued on Tuesday July 14:

“The mission of the Wikimedia Foundation is to empower and engage people around the world to collect and develop educational content under a free license or in the public domain, and to disseminate it effectively and globally. To that end, we have very productive working relationships with a number of galleries, archives, museums and libraries around the world, who join with us to make their educational materials available to the public.
“The Wikimedia Foundation does not control user behavior, nor have we reviewed every action taken by that user. Nonetheless, it is our general understanding that the user in question has behaved in accordance with our mission, with the general goal of making public domain materials available via our Wikimedia Commons project, and in accordance with applicable law.”

The Foundation added in its statement that as far as it was aware, the NPG had not attempted “constructive dialogue”, and that the volunteer community was presently discussing the matter independently.

In part, the lack of past agreement may have been because of a misunderstanding by the National Portrait Gallery of Commons and Wikipedia’s free content mandate; and of the differences between Wikipedia, the Wikimedia Foundation, the Wikimedia Commons, and the individual volunteer workers who participate on the various projects supported by the Foundation.

Like Coetzee, Ryan Kaldari is a volunteer worker who does not represent Wikipedia or the Wikimedia Commons. (Such representation is impossible. Both Wikipedia and the Commons are endeavours supported by the Wikimedia Foundation, and not organizations in themselves.) Nor, again like Coetzee, does he represent the Wikimedia Foundation.

Kaldari states that he explained the free content mandate to Bailey. Bailey had, according to copies of his messages provided by Kaldari, offered content to Wikipedia (naming as an example the photograph of John Opie‘s 1797 portrait of Mary Wollstonecraft, whose copyright term has since expired) but on condition that it not be free content, but would be subject to restrictions on its distribution that would have made it impossible to use by any of the many organizations that make use of Wikipedia articles and the Commons repository, in the way that their site-wide “usable by anyone” licences ensures.

The proposed restrictions would have also made it impossible to host the images on Wikimedia Commons. The image of the National Portrait Gallery in this article, above, is one such free content image; it was provided and uploaded to the Wikimedia Commons under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation Licence, and is thus able to be used and republished not only on Wikipedia but also on Wikinews, on other Wikimedia Foundation projects, as well as by anyone in the world, subject to the terms of the GFDL, a license that guarantees attribution is provided to the creators of the image.

As Commons has grown, many other organizations have come to different arrangements with volunteers who work at the Wikimedia Commons and at Wikipedia. For example, in February 2009, fifteen international museums including the Brooklyn Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum established a month-long competition where users were invited to visit in small teams and take high quality photographs of their non-copyright paintings and other exhibits, for upload to Wikimedia Commons and similar websites (with restrictions as to equipment, required in order to conserve the exhibits), as part of the “Wikipedia Loves Art” contest.

Approached for comment by Wikinews, Jim Killock, the executive director of the Open Rights Group, said “It’s pretty clear that these images themselves should be in the public domain. There is a clear public interest in making sure paintings and other works are usable by anyone once their term of copyright expires. This is what US courts have recognised, whatever the situation in UK law.”

The Digital Britain report, issued by the U.K.’s Department for Culture, Media, and Sport in June 2009, stated that “Public cultural institutions like Tate, the Royal Opera House, the RSC, the Film Council and many other museums, libraries, archives and galleries around the country now reach a wider public online.” Culture minster Ben Bradshaw was also approached by Wikinews for comment on the public policy issues surrounding the on-line availability of works in the public domain held in galleries, re-raised by the NPG’s threat of legal action, but had not responded by publication time.

Posted: August 17th, 2019 by

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