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6 Info. & Comm. Tech. L. 3 (1997)

handle is hein.journals/infctel6 and id is 1 raw text is: Information & Communications Technology Law, Vol. 6, No. 1, 1997

Intellectual Property Implications of Multimedia
Products: a case study
University of North Carolina School of Law, Campus Box #3380, Chapel Hill, NC 27599,
ABSTRACT This paper explores the intellectual property issues that arise in connection
with the production and distribution of a multimedia product. The analysis focuses on
a recent effort by a major US art museum to prepare a CD-ROM edition of its collection
and catalogue. The issues discussed include: the copyright interests and moral rights of
artists and others whose works were to be included in the product; the respective rights
of the museum and the various expert contractors whom it proposed to employ in the
production process; and the ability of the museum to use copyright, patent and licensing
law to protect the finished product against unauthorized exploitation. These issues are
examined comparatively, from both US and European legal perspectives. The museum's
case is broadly applicable, as the legal questions that it confronted are likely to arise in
a variety of multimedia contexts. The general conclusion is that the producer of a
multimedia product faces significant legal uncertainty because of the law's limited
experience in applying traditional intellectual property doctrines to this novel environ-
The authors recently concluded a legal analysis of a proposal by a US art
museum to distribute its collection and catalogue on multimedia CD-ROM. In
this paper we will use the museum's situation as a vehicle for exploring a
number of intellectual property and other legal issues that are endemic to
multimedia products. We will focus primarily on US law but also offer compar-
ative comments from a European perspective.
The problem
The museum's collection of paintings and other art objects falls into three
general categories: works in which the museum holds the copyright; works in
which the artist, the artist's estate, or some third party holds the copyright; and
works that are in the public domain, usually because the copyright has expired,
but occasionally because the artist has dedicated the work to the public domain.
The collection can also be divided into two parts along another legal axis: works
(that is, the actual paintings, sculptures, etc.) that the museum owns outright;
and works that it holds subject to limitations stated in a contract, deed of gift,
or trust arrangement. As we shall discuss later, there is a significant legal

1360-0834/97/010003-13  @ 1997 Journals Oxford Ltd


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