A Tumblr Chronicles Google Art Project Copyright Fails

Photo courtesy of Tumblr/Righted Museum

The Google Cultural Institute’s Google Art Project, the older sibling of the recently unveiled Google Street Art Project, provides museums with the ability to display and archive their collections online, while making them accessible to viewers around the world. It’s an incredible service that is democratizing who gets to look at art and how. Unfortunately, many museum collections house works that cannot be seen through the service due to copyright restrictions on the pieces. Thus, the 360-degree museum tours occasionally display a work that is blurred. This may make for a strange sight during your virtual travels, as well as a mysterious guessing game that a Tumblr called Righted Museum is dedicated to chronicling.

Photo courtesy of Tumblr/Righted Museum

Photo courtesy of Tumblr/Righted Museum

Righted Museum is an ongoing project of Mario Santamaria, a new media artist who has worked with the Google Art Project before in a series called “Running Through the Museum,” which depicts what it is like to move through a virtual representation of a museum at the highest possible speed. Another Google Art Project piece by Santamaria in the form of a Tumblr blog, “The Camera in the Mirror,” catalogues various times that the Google Street View camera has captured its own reflection in a mirror—a kind of unintended self-portrait—while photographing a museum.

In documenting these blurred paintings, Righted Museum is creating a record of every time freedom of information has failed. The ultimate irony, of course, will be when the blog gets a cease and desist order from Google for reproducing their copyrighted images. Until then, we’ll be busy guessing what these blurred masterpieces might be.

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