I am asking if anyone, anywhere in the world, other thanI do not.
While the stones themselves are in the public domain, prohibitingIt is not clear why the stones should be in the public domain. See below.
The Western Australia Metropolitan Cemeteries Board charges forIt appears >from the text of the rule that one must receive two
approvals to make a copy of a stone-- one >from the next of kin, and a
second >from the Board. It may be that the Board's interpretation of
this rule is that it approves if the next of kin approves. If the next
of kin does not approve or cannot be found, approval must come from
The copyright law protects original expressions >from copying.
Copyright law differs >from country to country. This description only
applies to U.S. copyright law.
The amount of originality required for copyright is not great, but
there must be some originality. Only the original aspects of the work
are protected by copyright. The recitation of facts is not
sufficiently original for copyright, so the inscription of the
deceased's name, date of birth, date of death, and the usual symbols
would not qualify for copyright. A photograph of decedent would, as
well as an unusual relief. Whether the copyright belongs to the
photographer, the stonecutter, or the next of kin will depend on the
relationship between them; it would not belong to the cemetery, so the
cemetery could not authorize copying it.
A second argument for restricting photos is a property argument.
Normally, the owner of property can decide who can come on that
property and what they can do when there. Technically, this argument
in favor of the cemetery would only work if this cemetery only granted
a right of burial, and not if it conveyed an ownership interest in the
Another thing to consider is that the Western Australia
Metropolitan Cemeteries Board sounds like a government agency. If so,
it would be bound by the rules establishing it, and it might be
subject to public pressure.
As a matter of policy, I see some justification for limiting
filming in cemeteries in order to preserve the dignity of the place
and the quiet of those who visit graves. It seems reasonable for a
cemetery to limit the times and manner in which film can be made to
protect those values. It is hard to see much reason to restrict
cellphone pictures, which are not usually accompanied by crowds,
lighting, or other distracting equipment.
Professor of Law, University of San Diego
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