Fan art might not be fan art, but it’s hard to tell

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Fan painting of Jane Austen

Copyright claimed by Paula Byrne

A while back, we shared a link to an auction of what we teasingly referred to as “fan art,” a portrait of Jane Austen thought to have been executed by a dedicated reader who liked to draw photos of how he imagined his favorite authors to look. At the time, we added a copy of the photo of the portrait (which you can see at left–click for the larger size) that we took from the auction site.

A few days after the auction, we received a request from someone claiming to represent the buyer. He said the buyer now owned the copyright, and asked us to remove the photo. He also promised that the image was being investigated and we would receive information about it when it became available. We disagree with the claim of copyright, which was owned by the photographer of the portrait, not the owner of the portrait; however, we don’t own the copyright either way, and he asked nicely, and we didn’t care enough about the image to fight it, so we took it down, asked to be updated when the time came, and forgot about it.

Yesterday, we received an e-mail saying we could post the photo again, with a press release about a program(me) to be aired on BBC Two, meaning we won’t be able to see it legally, which gives zero information about the actual portrait other than the usual tiresome claims about THIS IS THE ONLY REAL PORTRAIT OF JANE AUSTEN EXCEPT FOR THAT UGLY TIRED LITTLE THING IN THE NPG THAT DOESN’T COUNT. It all sounds very interesting, but it does us zero good as far as actually learning anything new. It just tells us to watch the TV program(me) that will be broadcast on another continent if we want to know more. We’re feeling a little used here, Gentle Readers. But we present the information, because that is our job, and we think it will be this week’s Wonder Story About Jane Austen. See our previous post about images of Jane Austen. Full press release after the jump. Continue reading