Information about copyrights of images when using prometheus

1. Utilization of Images for Research and Education

The images and media files (e.g. videos) available in prometheus may be used as instruction materials by universities and schools as well as for individual scientific purposes without paying a fee or obtaining a license (§ 60 UrhG Unterabschnitt 4).

Usage other than for research and education requires the consideration of possible third party copyrights, and might necessitate obtaining the consent of the copyright holder.

If images will be used for purposes other than research and education, the following information might be helpful to ascertain the possible copyright claims of third parties, and the appropriate options open to you.

2. Distinction between the copyright for a work of art and the copyright for an image of that work of art

In order to get an adequate overview of possible third party copyright claims regarding a specific image in prometheus, two distinct categories may apply:

(a) Utilization rights to objects defined as “work of art” in the copyright
(b) Utilization rights to images of these objects which are defined as “photographs/photographic works of art” in the copyright

regarding (a) Utilization rights to objects

The copyright holder of a work of art is the artist. Utilization rights remain the property of the artist, and can be transferred to his/her heirs for up to 70 years after the demise of the artist. (§ 64 UrhG) After that time, the copyright expires, and the work of art enters the public domain.
This definition makes clear that a copyright exists only if a specific work of art was created by an artist whose death occurred less than 70 years ago.

Utilization rights for all artists for the years before the 70th anniversary of their demise are regulated by Verwertungsgesellschaft Bild-Kunst in Bonn, Germany.

prometheus has concluded an agreement with VG Bild-Kunst. This agreement permits making the images available through various image databases in prometheus, as well as utilizing those images for research and educational purposes (see 1).

Permission to use them for other purposes, like publicising or making them available to the public requires authorization from VG Bild-Kunst.

regarding (b) Utilization rights to images

Photographs of works of art are protected by ancillary copyright as well (§ 72 UrhG, Right to Use). Photos/slides are products of a straightforward photographic process or a process analogous to photography. Copyright protection terminates 50 years after the creation of the photograph/slide, or 50 years after its first authorized publication. However, the copyright reform in 2021 has the effect that reproductions of public domain visual works are no longer protected by related rights (§ 68 UrhG). Public domain thus remains in the public domain.

If a more artistic photograph has been produced, for example by choosing a certain angle or special lighting, it is defined as a photographic work of art, and is protected by copyright for up to 70 years after the photographer’s death (§ 64 UrhG). As a rule, photos taken of three-dimensional originals (sculptures, etc.) result in a photographic work of art.

The agreement with VG Bild-Kunst which is mentioned above (see 2a) also permits making available the photographs of “works of art” within prometheus and utilizing them for research and educational purposes.

Permission to use them for other purposes, like publicising or making them available to the public requires authorization from the photographer or the responsible institution (e.g. image databases, publishers, VG Bild-Kunst).

prometheus endeavours to name the appropriate copyright holders of the photographs. On occasion, you have to research the copyright yourself; the indicated source of the image is usually helpful.

prometheus is interested in negotiating contracts with the copyright holders of photographs, photographic works of art, photographers, image databases, publishers etc., in order to enable us to provide permission for publication for non-profit, scientific publications.

We were able to negotiate an exemplary agreement of cooperation with the Bildagentur für Kunst, Kultur und Geschichte (formerly Bildarchiv Preußischer Kulturbesitz), allowing the use of all digital images that have been made available to prometheus, free of charge in non-profit, scientific publications that have a circulation of under 1000 copies. The same arrangement applies to online publications on scientific and non-profit purposes. Please notice that the size of the images may not be larger than 600px x 800 px.
The bpk, the museum and the photographer named in the picture credits have to be specified in the image source. Without further request, a sample copy is to be sent to the museums the works of art come from. Obtaining legal approval of the copyright holder of the respective images is easily accomplished via prometheus by using the publication button [§].