Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Lost Lost Edinburgh

Lost Edinburgh was a facebook page I adored devoted to images of a by-gone Edinburgh. Before many historical buildings (say, on Princes Street) were demolished to make way for concrete 60's and 70's block buildings.  I had planned on blogging about it anyhow, but now there's a new twist on the story. The page has been shut down to conflicting copyright issues with Royal Commission of the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland.

I've always been interested in historical preservation. And with my work for my latest novel, I've been studying copyright laws and modern copyright battles, as a copyright battle features prominently in the book.

Basically, because the Crown owns the images, it conflicts with facebook's copyright claim on anything uploaded to their site. So now, instead of directing you to the page, I'll direct you to its replacement: "We want the Lost in Edinburgh Page Back, Please."

The comments raise some interesting questions, like "Why are images of public places taken by dead photographers copyrighted?" "Why aren't they public domain yet?"

There are answers to these questions. Some satisfying, some not. But it's interesting to think about. And work has already begun to reinstate the site using photos from private authorized collections. What do you think? Somehow, both issues of preserving (buildings/tradition/architecture & artistic ownership) go together. Who has ownership of a city? Or a city's history? Is it the people who live there right now, or does that ownership stretch backwards and forwards? It might be a scenario where the questions are more interesting than any answers...nevertheless, the discussions should be intriguing. 

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