Chicago Park Copyrighted

Bean.jpgA sculpture in Chicago's new Millennium Park is off limits to photographers.

Here's the Slashdot account:

The City of Chicago recently completed a $475 million park/civic center known as Millennium Park. One of the central features is a sculpture officially called Cloud Gate and unofficially called "The Bean". The Bean is a giant, 3 story, 110-ton hunk of highly reflective steel. Photographers taking pictures of the sculpture have been charged money by the city. The park district is claiming that pictures of the park violate the designers' and artists' copyrights. Quoth Karen Ryan, the press director for the park's project, "The copyrights for the enhancements in Millennium Park are owned by the artist who created them. As such, anyone reproducing the works, especially for commercial purposes, needs the permission of that artist." In response, Chicagoland bloggers have been posting as many pictures as they can get of The Bean.

Given the array of public events that will likely occur with the Bean as a backdrop, the royalties could prove significant. But whatever the copyrightability of a sculpture in this context, there is an additional issue: If you need permission for commercial use of an image including the Bean, can the Bean copyright holder refuse? Imagine if a film is to be made that takes place in Chicago's Millennium Park--or even flies over it, with a downward view. Would the copyright holder be able to hold the filmmaker for a ransom?

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