Imminent Win For The Public Domain: Court Likely To Compel Musée Rodin To Release Its 3D Scans Of Sculptor’s Works For Free

From Above the Law:

Back in 2019, Techdirt wrote about a fascinating case involving a bogus CC license on a 3D scan of a 3000-year-old bust of Nefertiti. The person at the heart of the saga was the artist and open access activist Cosmo Wenman. His web site has some background on what he calls his “freedom of information projects“:

For more than a decade, museums around the world have been making high-quality 3D scans of important sculptures and ancient artifacts. Many institutions freely share those 3D scans with the public, allowing us to view, copy, adapt, and experiment with the underlying works in ways that have never before been possible. But some keep their scans out of public view, and I’ve been trying to help them see the light.

Following his success in liberating the 3D scan of Nefertiti, Wenman is now trying to do the same with 3D scans of the works of the great French sculptor Auguste Rodin. Many of these scans have been created by the Musée Rodin in Paris. There is a long and entertaining article (in the original French and an English translation – pdf) about Wenman’s pursuit of the 3D scans, and of the Musée Rodin’s refusal to share them. Wenman took an interesting tack, claiming that the museum’s 3D scans were documents subject to France’s freedom of information (FOIA) laws. It worked:

In late 2018 I sent a formal demand to Musée Rodin for access to all its 3D scans, citing French freedom of information laws. When the museum refused to comply, I brought the matter before the French government.

In June of 2019 the French government agency that oversees FOIA matters announced its first-of-its-kind opinion, in my favor; 3D scans produced by French national museums are in fact administrative documents and are subject to public disclosure. Musée Rodin is required by law to give the public access to its 3D scans of Rodin’s works.

Another victory for Wenman, then, but rather a hollow one. Despite the French government agency’s ruling, Musée Rodin continues to withhold the 3D scans. Wenman went on to file a suit against the museum in the Administrative Tribunal of Paris. Wenman wants the court to compel the museum to comply with the law, and to impose “significant” financial penalties for any delay. After more than a year with no response, the court directed the museum to present a defense. At the time of writing, Wenman is still waiting. However, given the unequivocal nature of the rulings against the Musée Rodin, he is confident:

Musée Rodin is going to fight, but I expect to win. The outcome will affect every national museum in France, inform policies at institutions around the world, and have interesting effects on the art market.

I’m shooting for a victory for open access, and freedom and innovation in the arts.

The knock-on effects of one person’s dogged pursuit of a few computer files could have a major impact on the wider availability of 3D scans of sculptures and ancient artifacts — a real win for the public domain.

Link to the rest at Above the Law

First, the application to authors – the 3D scans are a species of intellectual property, just like an author’s intellectual property interest in a story he/she creates.

The major difference is that, if the 3D model had been created from a scan of an original physical work made by or licensed from the creator of that work or as an original digitally-created work rather than one derived from a pre-existing physical object, the creator would have a protectable intellectual property interest in resulting model, the file created and, likely physical instantiations of that creation.

In this case, the scan was made from an original work created by Rodin, not by The Musée Rodin. Since Rodin’s original copyright interest in the original work expired a long time ago, absent some meaningful additional artistic contribution by someone during the 3D scan or with the resulting file, the scan is not a new protectible creation.

If PG goes to a museum and takes an iPhone photo of a 200-year-old painting, he hasn’t created anything new. (Whether he could post-process the photo into something creatively different from the original is a matter of degree. Enough post-processing and it might be a new creation. If PG just tweaked it so it looked a bit better than what the iPhone had produced on its own, probably not.)

Intellectual property experts are free, as usual, to criticize, supplement, etc., PG’s simplified description of the IP interests and their protectability under IP law in the comments below.


It may be obvious to many from the OP, but allow PG to summarize:

  • The Musée Rodin houses a large collection of artworks created by by famous French sculptor August Rodin (1840-1917) at locations in Paris and Meudon, where Rodin lived and worked during the last twenty years of his life.
  • Rodin’s best-known sculpture is The Thinker.
The Thinker, August Rodin

Under the supervision of the Ministry of Culture and Communication, the Musée Rodin is a non-subsidized national museum, a status that is quite unique on the French museum scene. The collections and works of art originating from the Auguste Rodin Donation, as well the acquisitions made by the museum, are the French State’s inalienable property. The Musée Rodin is administered by a board of trustees. The museum’s task is to make Rodin’s work known worldwide and to ensure that the moral right attached to it is respected.

Musée Rodin Public Establishment

It has become common for museums to perform in situ high-resolution 3-D computer scans of, at least, some of their most well-known sculptures. The result of the scan is a digital file that depicts every portion of the sculpture in great detail.

These scans can be easily shared throughout the world for, among other things, detailed examinations and analyses of the sculpture by experts everywhere without the necessity of interfering with the opportunity for the general public to view the original sculpture or risking any sort of damage to or loss of the sculpture by removing it from its current location for such examination. Like any other digital file, exact duplicates can be created at very little cost.

For purposes of a freedom of information request (which is governed by the laws of the country in question), a digital file is, absent special treatment under the law, a document like any other that a government (including government agencies) is required to produce if a FOIA request if filed in proper form.


In the US, per the US Health and Human Services you can file a FOIA request as follows:

The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) provides public access to all federal agency records except for those records (or portions of those records) that are protected from disclosure by any of nine exemptions or three exclusions (reasons for which an agency may withhold records from a requester).

The exemptions cover:

  1. Classified national defense and foreign relations information
  2. Internal agency rules and practices
  3. Information that is prohibited from disclosure by another law
  4. Trade secrets and other confidential business information
  5. Inter-agency or intra-agency communications that are protected by legal privileges
  6. Information involving matters of personal privacy
  7. Certain information compiled for law enforcement purposes
  8. Information relating to the supervision of financial institutions
  9. Geological information on wells

The three exclusions, which are rarely used, pertain to certain sensitive law enforcement and national security matters.


Cosmo Wenman filed a freedom of information suit in France against the Musée Rodin when the museum apparently objected to his request for a copy of the 3D file of the Rodin statue.

Ultimately, the CADA AKA Commission D’Accès Aux Documents Administratifs (Commission for Access to Administrative Documents) ruled, in part:

the scans of works for which the Rodin Museum ensures the conservation, for purposes of both study and commercial exploitation, constitute administrative documents within the meaning of the aforementioned provisions, as soon as they have been elaborated and are held in the framework of the public service mission entrusted to this establishment. They are therefore, in principle, communicable to anyone who requests it.

The scans are administrative documents and Wenman was entitled to them.

One fact noted in a commentary PG read – The Musée Rodin receives over half of its annual revenue from its commercial activities, selling large and small reproductions of Rodin’s sculptures, printed copies of artworks, mugs, stationery, jewelry, t-shirts, lapel pins, tote bags, etc., with images derived from Rodin’s artworks, etc., as opposed to entrance fees paid by patrons.

So much for the museum’s laser focus on steadfastly protecting the artistic heritage of Rodin.

Once Mr. Wenman has a copies of the digital scans of the artworks in The Musée Rodin, you can expect him to make them widely available for anyone to download at no charge.

Mr. Wenman has been down this road before with the three-thousand-year-old Bust of Nefertiti, held by the Egyptian Museum and Papyrus Collection in Berlin.

You can download the 3-D digital file of the scan at the MakerBot Thingiverse.

Following are two videos that show/explain the 3-D printing process.

The first video is short, depicting the printing process for a smaller-than-life-size copy of the original.

The second video is longer, but more detailed, because the artist/mechanic used a home-sized printer to create a full-sized copy of the original.

10 thoughts on “Imminent Win For The Public Domain: Court Likely To Compel Musée Rodin To Release Its 3D Scans Of Sculptor’s Works For Free”

  1. Sooo, I love the topic (FOI) and someone using it in a new way, but I am surprised ATL didn’t do a better unpacking the case. Or more particularly, examining the goal of FOI acts, the exemptions, and what might be minimally required to comply. Personally, I would break it down differently, and I’m not as sold as ATL or the plaintiff on the merits of the case.

    A. TAKING A PICTURE VS. TAKING A SCAN

    So taking a picture, as PG said, of a 200yo painting does not give you IP over the painting. But I’m loathe to say you have no IP over the picture. Taken to the extreme, it would imply that photographers have no rights in their images, and that’s a couple of dozen steps too far for me. Heck, we almost had a monkey having digital rights not too long ago. So I’m not sure a HQ scan is less protected than a picture, simply because it’s of a Rodin sculpture. They still created the work product. If they were a private company, and someone hacked their computers, stole all the HQ scans they did of a 2000 year old artifact, that would constitute both a hack and a theft. One cannot say those HQ scans were not work products, particularly if no one else had them, nor of no value, since someone stole them. I find it challenging for him to say “I have a right to these” without inherently recognizing that they don’t exist elsewhere, they were produced by the Museum, and they have actual value (not only in themselves but as their ability to create all the merchandise). To my mind, it is not dissimilar from someone asking a lawyer in a discovery motion for any of their work-products. While not allowed for justice purposes, it also reflects that it is IP owned by the lawyer in the pursuit of their work, not that of a company they may be representing.

    B. PUBLIC VS. PRIVATE

    In my view, there would be zero traction if someone went to the Museum, if it was entirely private, and said, “Gimme”. You can’t call up IBM and say I have a right to your latest scan of a microchip, for example. All of those clear work-products are owned by the company, there’s no right to have them simply because you want them. It only applies to public-funded institutions.

    C. ACCESS VS. FOI

    There is rarely a recognized right to access materials that is completely open-ended. I can’t, for example, claim that I can only visit the museum on Nov 24 between 2 and 3 a.m. and insist the Museum grant me access. I also can’t insist that every exhibit always be on display. Some are out for repair, some are merely on rotation, etc. And while you might be able to insist on access “at some time”, very few courts would be of the view “produce it now” simply because someone asked for it. A normal response would be, “We have an exhibit planned for 2024-2025”. And barring other reasons, most courts tend to be deferential to museum curators (reflecting the normal economic bias in law).

    FOI is a “novel” way to upend it for this specific topic, but not a particularly novel tool. FOI has been around for some time, and while jurisdictions differ for the exact elements, they usually have very specific goals and exemptions. The first and overwhelming goal is for citizens to have access to information about them. If it is about you, and there is no exemption to block a release, courts generally side with the plaintiff and order it released. Even when it is not very flattering or potentially damaging to the government. That’s precisely WHY the FOI legislations exist…to let citizens access info on themselves that govts would rather not share unless compelled. Unfortunately, that doesn’t apply to the situation here…the scan is not of him.

    The second goal is for investigative or accountability reasons. If you are interested in the Kennedy assassination, and the Warren Commission report doesn’t answer everything you want to know, file your requests. If you think a UFO landed in Roswell, file away. If you think that there is too much money being spent on paperclips at a local supply house, when you can get them cheaper at Staples/Business Depot, file away. Unfortunately, again, the guy isn’t going to “see” anything he doesn’t already see. If they were scans that were metallurgical though, or there were chemical analyses, something he couldn’t see just by looking at the sculpture, he MIGHT have a shot. But arguing he wants to SEE better? Not really under this goal because there is nothing investigative about the scans. They’re just higher quality than what he himself has, but the sculpture is there for anyone to “see” and “know”.

    The third goal is a bit more general, and usually talks about simple transparency (a higher standard of accountability) and access to stuff that was produced by the govt funded by the people. Now, a prison or museum is constructed by govt, I don’t have a right to inspect them. But I do have a right to see a report about an inspection by others. In this case, the argument falling to the third tier is NOT always as clear-cut as the first two lines. While the first two have pretty heavy thresholds to overcome by the govt, these ones tend to be more administrative barriers. And as such are subject to administrative and public law doctrine more so than the others. The others act as a giant sword against the government running amok, this one acts more like a shield with pointy edges. In this category, and it is the biggest category by volume, people ask for info of their government on a wide-range of topics. Some of it is benign like a kid writing to their local rep to ask for how much $$ was spent in district X on soybean advertising (I’m making it up). But there are a lot of requests that come in informally for info on “what govt does” through political offices. More formal ones go through FOI offices. But while I’m going on at some length, it is because the outcome is almost always the same — you are entitled to see what the government sees and, generally speaking, to have a copy of it so that *you have the same information*. Remember the act? It is Freedom of INFORMATION, not Freedom of Assets in whatever form you want.

    D. FORM OF RELEASE

    So, the courts and the FOI commissioner look at these things and if they do a basic analysis, they’ll likely say, as already argued:

    YES 1. It’s a picture that is replicable, not the sculpture itself (he can’t ask for the sculpture).
    YES 2. It’s a public institution subject to the laws.
    ??? 3. It’s a “doc” produced by the institution with IP value.
    YES 4. No specific exemption to avoid releasing the **information**.
    ??? 5. The only way to comply is sharing the files.

    Which means as ATL said, a “likely win”. Or is it? #3 and #5 are not quite so clear-cut, but even if we go with #3 as a YES, that would still leave a question mark for #5.

    Because in almost all FOI legislation, the requirement is for the information to be released, not the digital file. So, for example, if they printed out a HQ scan and said “Here you go”, they would have met their FOI requirements. There’s nothing in any legislation that says it has to be in the format they ask for. I can’t specify that a scan of the constitution be produced in the original parchment, for example. The INFORMATION is access to the images, not that he can have the .STL file in order that he can go print it on his 3D printer or start a commercial business based on the file. He can recreate his own, but there’s nothing in almost any legislation anywhere that specifies format.

    The reason being is that it is administratively complex if you do give that right. Now, some commissions have sub-regulatory power, and it often contains requirements to give it to the requester in a usable format. In other words, they encourage digital mainly as it is more accessible to digest and cheaper. And most of those docs are actually run through a scanner, even when they exist in DOC format, so that the person gets a SCAN of all the originals, not the in the same format as the original itself. PDF is the format of choice. Soooo, if the Museum wanted to comply, they could say, “Sure, here they are” and provide the INFORMATION in PDF format. Totally useless to him. But they would have complied.

    THE FOI SIDESTEP

    Now, there is a solution, and it already exists in FOI circles for the museum to bypass the issue entirely. Many “publicly” funded institutions worry about these types of FOI requests all the time, particularly if provenance or donations are confidential or controversial. So they have a sidestep option. They create a private corporation, like ACME Inc, and transfer all of the assets from the “public” museum to the “private” museum corporation. Then, everything that is “done” is licensed BACK to the museum. The museum wouldn’t own the scans, the corporation would. And trying to get them from the corp would be relatively futile. It’s a shell game but a giant loophole to most FOI rules. The Museum is fulfilling its mandate to show the work, but they don’t own the files. They’re the front-facing elements, everything else is done by the corp.

    If I was the museum, I would not fold. I would argue that it is a private work product with IP value, owned by the organization, but that they are completely willing to share PDFs, not the .STL files. Not unlike reports that are public and sold by Govt Publishing Offices, they still retain some copyright in the product, and are not required to hand over the graphical layout file so you can upload it to Amazon and sell your own copy. In the event the argument fails, hive it off to a private corp.

    There are many in the FOI world who would consider such a request an abuse of what the FOI legislation is designed to do. Creative, but to the side, not kosher.

    Paul

    • <LegalNeepery>

      Paul, this has been a raging controversy in the photography community since the 1840s (let’s not get started on the French versus English thing, ok?). And it’s one that lawyers, judges, et al. are particularly ill-equipped to insert themselves into in the first place…

      …but they’re the ones charged with resolving the argument. So they do. Inconsistently, and almost always ineptly, for a simple reason:
      (1) A work of art (or not) is the result of a multistep process.
      (2) A lawsuit regarding that work of art (or not) can only concern the product without regard to the process.

      With that in mind, it all comes down to a fundamental question (regardless of the nation’s copyright law or cultural heritage law at issue): Is the process used to create work x‘, which comes into existence only at x‘(t>0), sufficiently original to and distinct from preexisting source work x to merit legal protection? Only if this is a “yes” do we get to the really hard part: How much legal protection, and for what?

      With hindsight that makes Mr. Magoo a paragon of clear vision, lawyers and judges try to tease out how much of the x to x‘ process was “original” and how much was merely “effort” (in English law, “sweat of the brow”, and I’m choosing English instead of US law here because Europe is where the law is most honest about the problems, not because either set of law is superior) (at least until the first post-Brexit opinions blow this up). With photography, this comes down to a simple question with a very not-simple answer:

      What, and how much, did the photographer do to create a still depiction that is originally and creatively more than and distinct from a mere faithful (getreue) reproduction?

      This obviously becomes much more difficult when dealing with a museum’s two-dimensional photographs of three-dimensional works, because there is considerable skill — and sometimes creativity (in the copyright sense) — involved in making that two-dimensional photograph a getreue Reproduktion of a three-dimensional object that has its own distinct texture (even the smoothness of marble)? Ironically, it’s actually less of a problem with Wenman/Musée Rodin than with, say, the inclusion of a photographer’s works licensed only for one-time use in insurance applications in an expensive “coffee-table” book (and I’m a consultant, not counsel, so I’m allowed to say “WTF?”), precisely because the 3D scans do not invoke the skill/possible creativity of maintaining Getrauen while cutting out a dimension.

      The key point, though, is not the copyrightability of the scans (or photographs) themselves; it’s with what reproductive rights remain. That’s where the intersection with FOI laws gets interesting, because the “government works” doctrine in the US — which denies copyright to works “of” the federal government — doesn’t exist in Europe. (Just do a search on “Crown Copyright” for easily-understood examples in English! Worse yet, and more disturbingly, look at German-language records regarding That Book authored by Adolf Schickelgrüber under the name he became better known by after his stint as a corporal.) I’m just going to be an American imperialist, tongue slightly but only slightly in cheek, and say we’ve got it right, Europe has it wrong, Asia is such a complete mess that nobody knows what it has, and Africa and Micronesia are even more wrong than Europe because all of their governmental claims are in furtherance of retconning not justified by the historical record/geography/anything else.

      So my point ultimately is that the 3D scans Wenman seeks, on balance, are not copyrightable — if they were never copyrightable, moral rights never attach, and we don’t have to worry about that question! — and the question then becomes whether their commercial value to the Musée justifies any restriction on access to them as “mere information.” And on that issue, I disgree with the criticism that this is a (my word) misuse of FOI; it is, indeed, the very point of freedom-of-information laws that absent a national-security or clear personal-privacy aspect of information held by the government, that information needs to be held transparently. The real issue is whether a museum should “be” a government agency subject to FOI… and that’s a case-by-case tradeoff that the Musée Rodin has already lost.

      • Outside of the US model, which almost no other country except the US thinks they got it right, the legislation is all about access to information — to know what they have and to see it. It is not about having it in a form you can replicate and use for a personal printer at home to satisfy your personal desire for art.

        Why I think it is abusive is that if you use a law for an unintended purpose, you frequently can screw up things for the intended purpose. So, for example, suppose in this case they decide a) it was protectable, b) it is protected, and c) they can’t have it, then the next person who wants to access something in the Museum’s control has a much higher threshold to meet. To go back to my example, suppose they have metallurgical scans of several sculptures purported to be of a certain time period. But you, as a historical scholar, believe that they are of a very different time period. And you want the metallurgical scans to allow you to prove your hypothesis as part of valid research. In that case, the info itself is “hidden” — it is something you cannot know without access to their scans or results of their scans. So you might apply for access. But if there is already bad case law that says “no, scans are protected”, because they tried to do something the law wasn’t intended to cover, the next person applying will be out of luck.

        Working in Govt, and having had to deal with some creative FOI requests, there are often unintended side effects of such requests or cases. In my personal view, I feel like every time someone gets creative with how it is used, the system “snaps back” afterwards in ways that tend NOT to be positive. Like my example of diverting records to a corporation rather than the Museum. There are way more extreme examples in law enforcement and national security though.

        An interesting question might arrive in my jurisdiction and I would pose it if I was representing the Museum. What if the Museum offered them for sale to anyone? A low-res scan for anyone for free (which meets FOI requirements) and a high-res scan for those who want to use it for another purpose. Could the Museum sell them? Could they license it someone else to sell? Let a company come in, scan anything and everything, and license the use? 🙂 What would that do to the case’s argument that it is about “access” to the info for transparency purposes (easily met) vs. what he really wants is the ability to use the files to print stuff at home (not about transparency). My jurisdiction has had court cases related to cost, and the jurisprudence internationally is pretty complicated to untangle.

        We used to take a request, and if it was actionable/allowed, then we would bifurcate our response. If it was simple and easily done, then the info is just gathered and provided. If, on another hand, it was a very large request, requiring many person hours to compile and produce, then there was a cost recovery estimate prepared and the applicant was asked if they wanted to proceed. A recent request, for example, was so broad that it represented a request for 50,000 documents. All of which has to be compiled, reviewed, and vetted for security issues (including mundane things like personal information about another taxpayer as well as more risky elements like a discussion of our security protocols in place in our computer networks) before release. Literally months of work which is not zero cost, it’s actually quite substantial. Some jurisdictions require the requests to be narrower in scope (in which case they file 20 different ones to get the same info), some do it on a cost recovery basis, some do it on “as time allows, we’ll get to it” basis. But in the past, our second stand was to give them a cost estimate and ask if they wanted to proceed. One of our courts suggested, without ruling directly, that a cost prohibitive estimate tended to negate the goal of the act. Yet administratively, it was not intended that an applicant would submit requests costs hundreds of thousands of dollars to respond to simply because they had an itch to scratch. I, myself, have some work planned for when I fully retire in about 4.5 y, and I could file some very detailed FOI requests to get the info. Instead, I’m likely to work my way through the bureaucracy, tell them what I’m looking for, and they’ll just email it to me just to avoid having the FOI request at all. They know I’m entitled to it, and can get it, but the overhead for that is huge. I’m fortunate enough to know what I want and where it is. And it’s all unclassified internal stuff. And, similar to this case, all work-products. Fortunately, no IP attaches to what I’m looking for. 🙂

        But I’d hate to see someone file an ATIP / FOI request in the meantime to mess it all up.

        • Let’s not go off too far into the wilds of FOI, which are wild indeed (disclosure: my last active-duty job title, according to the unclassified parts of my personnel records, was Command Historian, Air Force District of Washington; so I know where the bodies are buried — I literally know where the bodies are literally buried, because I had to research it for a FOIA request).

          I will say, though, that the “hires/lores” distinction won’t cut it. There’s substantial, binding case law from the 1980s — that is still good law, it’s still constantly cited — that if it was created pursuant to a government contract, it’s subject to FOIA as if held by the contracting entity. Even if the hires versions were never transferred directly to government control. (The theory is that the contractor doesn’t own the work that was done for the government, it is at best only a bailee and the bailor can be compelled to cough up what is in its bailee’s possession, just like leaving that gun you used in your storage unit doesn’t keep you from having to retrieve it from the storage unit in response to a subpoena.)
          And trying to contract around this won’t work, either.

          The real problem is treating the museum as an arm of the government. That’s where things are Interesting.

    • Thanks for your detailed and quite complete explanation and analysis, Paul. I claim no particular expertise in this field and learned more than a thing or two about FOI from your comment.

      As I read the original, the holding of the French authority was that the scan was the equivalent of what we would call a government document and, apparently, not exempt from FOI under French law. I’m assuming that whoever created the scan did so at the express request of and, likely, pursuant to a contract with the museum (likely for a fee) pursuant to some sort of agreement that gave the museum all rights to the file(s) resulting from the scan.

      In the US, such an arrangement would constitute a work made for hire agreement for copyright purposes and any copyright would belong to the museum.

      Some US work made for hire agreements with photographers include a limited license back to the photographer to include the resulting photos in online and printed portfolios for promotional purposes, etc. A very persnickety client might require that the photographer destroy all other digital files from the shoot in a manner that would prevent their recovery and certify that this had been done in a writing sent to the client.

      • Except, PG, that merely “taking photographs” by a freelancer cannot be a work made for hire unless those photographs become part of one of the categories of works defined in § 101. Instead, it has to be a terminable-after-35-years transfer of copyright.

        No matter what the contracts say, which frequently (even today!) claim it’s work for hire and then in another clause deny that the photographer is an employee.

        Just because my contract calls something “irrevocable” doesn’t make it irrevocable if the law provides otherwise.

  2. Another article indicates the scans were made for the Baltimore Museum of Art by a US company and that the claim of the French museum is based on moral rights (which seem to be perpetual in France)

    https://www.theartnewspaper.com/news/rodin-3d

    I wonder if the Museum could meet FOI obligations by allowing a form of access to the ‘documents’ that would not allow them to be duplicated.

    • Good question, Gary.

      I’m not an expert on moral rights, but my understanding is that the nature, extent and duration of moral rights may vary from nation to nation.

      • I’d offer an opinion on moral rights, but I have questionable morals. Like that’s ever stopped me before.

        Droit morale (as distinct from droit d’auteur, which do not apply to what we over here call “fine art originals” and in Europe they go through ten rabbit holes to end up in approximately the same place) is, for fine-art works that have a specific and known artist, primarily a matter of “You must always acknowledge the original work and artist, even if your own derivative work is otherwise allowed by law.” That’s one of the distinctions between the bust of Nefertiti (which not only has no known artist, but originates in a nation to which France has not extended droit morale protections) and Rodin’s sculpture (which… does).

        This would get much more “interesting” (especially for hourly billing!) if we were talking about high-resolution scans of the Voynich Manuscript, or its French equivalent. Or even just of illustrated letters that Rodin had penned. Then, droit d’auteur — adding some limits to the ability to make derivatives, albeit not as much as copyright does for a work still in its term — comes into play.

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