RODIN MUSEUM FOIA

Since 2014 I have been trying to access several institutions’ 3D scans of Auguste Rodin’s sculptures, all of which are in the public domain. My inquiries with the Baltimore Museum of Art about accessing their Thinker scan revealed careless access policies and unresponsive decision-makers there. That led me to a confrontation with Musée Rodin in Paris over its self-serving copyfraud and the effortless way the museum harms the public by intimidating institutions around the world.

Musée Rodin interfered with my attempt to access the Baltimore Museum of Art’s scan, and spent over a year refusing to respond to my straightforward requests for an explanation of its decision and policies.

In late 2018 I sent a formal demand to Musée Rodin for access to all its 3D scans, citing French freedom of information laws. When the museum refused to comply, I brought the matter before the government’s Commission d’accès aux documents administratifs, (CADA) the authority that oversees government agencies’ compliance with freedom of information laws.

In June of 2019 CADA issued its first-of-its-kind opinion, in my favor; 3D scans produced by French national museums are in fact administrative documents and are subject to public disclosure. Musée Rodin is required by law to give the public access to its 3D scans of Rodin’s works.

Despite the government’s opinion, Musée Rodin continues to ignore the law. To remedy this, in December 2019, I filed suit against the museum in the Administrative Tribunal of Paris. I’m asking the court to compel the museum to comply with the law, and to impose significant financial penalties for any delay.

After more than a year with no response from the museum, on February 8, 2021 the Court directed the museum to present a defense.

The museum submitted its mémoire en défense to the Court on March 5, 2021. In it, the museum makes several significant concessions to my suit, but still refuses to comply on several points. I am currently waiting for the Court to set a hearing date.

The museum knows it is fighting a losing battle, and refuses to speak with the press about its policies or this dispute. The outcome of this case will affect every national museum in France, inform policies at institutions around the world, and have interesting effects on the art market. I’m shooting for a victory for open access, and freedom and innovation in the arts.

DOCUMENTS

My correspondence with The Baltimore Museum of Art, Musée Rodin, and a representative of the Ministry of Culture, along with my attorney’s pre-litigation correspondence with Musée Rodin and the CADA, are organized here with various additional resources and all parties’ contact information: Rodin 3D Scan Access Campaign
(.pdf in French and English, last updated March 24, 2021)

My December 2019 Court filing is here:
Cosmo-Wenman-Tribunal-Administratif-de-Paris-Requete.zip
(.zip archive of PDFs in French and English)

Musée Rodin’s March 5, 2021 mémoire en défense Court filing is here:
Musee-Rodin-Memoire-en-defense.zip
(.zip archive of PDFs; includes English translation of statement and several defense exhibits)

RECENT MEDIA COVERAGE

The Art Newspaper, March 5, 2021:
Musée Rodin could be forced to release 3D scans of bronze sculptures—including The Thinker—to the public

Techdirt, March 18, 2021:
Imminent Win For The Public Domain: Court Likely To Compel Musée Rodin To Release Its 3D Scans Of Sculptor’s Works For Free

The Art Newspaper Edition Française, March 22, 2021
Le musée Rodin menacé de devoir rendre publics les scans des ses sculptures

My successful effort to obtain the CADA agency’s opinion in my favor is recounted in this NextINpact story: Le scan 3D du Penseur de Rodin est un document administratif communicable (PDF in English)

Please contact me for original copies of any of the documents included above, or for related images to accompany any stories.

I will update this page as this project develops.

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