Foundation Announces Pioneering Fair Use Image Policy

Feb 29, 2016


Rauschenberg at Gemini G.E.L., Los Angeles, 1969. Photo: Sidney B. Felsen © 1969; Rauschenberg's Collection, 1954.


We are pleased to announce a new Fair Use policy- the first to be adopted by an artist-endowed foundation–that will make images of Rauschenberg's artwork more accessible to museums, scholars, artists, and the public.

This new policy comes at an important moment for image rights, as more institutions are providing free and open access to their archives and digitized collections. Prior to 2015, the Rauschenberg Foundation, like many artist foundations and estates, safeguarded the use of images through licensing agents. Over time, the Foundation observed that the fear of violating copyright restrictions resulted in two unique challenges. First, due to the prohibitive costs associated with rights and licensing, many scholars and professors limit themselves to using freely available images in their lectures, presentations, and publications, which in turn can alter how art history itself is written and taught. Additionally, image licensing hinders the conversion of print publications to digital formats, due to the costs of obtaining rights for a second time.

Furthermore, given the costs and complexities around using images online and on social media, museums and other institutions are limited in the types of images they can post to their channels. As a result, individual users, not institutions, generate many images of artworks that exist in the digital realm. A lack of “official” images with correct captions and attributions leads to the perpetuation of incorrect information online and on social media.

In order to address these challenges and the changing landscape of image rights, the Foundation issued pilot licenses to a select group of museums in 2015, including the Art Institute of Chicago, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA), and the Tate Modern.

Inspired by the increased use of Rauschenberg artwork images as a result of this pilot license to museums, the Rauschenberg Foundation has decided to expand its Fair Use policy to the public at large.

Read the full Fair Use policy >

Read more in The New York Times >