Responses to Accusations Against
UC Berkeley Mellon Grant

Accusations have been made against UC Berkeley's Mellon Foundation Grant to study the Museum Educational Site Licensing Project, and against the Principal Investigator of that Grant (Howard Besser). Charges leveled by David Bearman have been picked up and redisseminated by others, and erroneous information has spread across the Net. We have tried various methods to halt this spread but have been unsuccessful. So we have set up this website to try to correct some of the misinformation.

These charges were originally raised in response to Howard Besser's participation in a Debate on Fair Use at the Annual Meeting of the College Art Association on February 26, 1998. This page contains UC Berkeley Mellon grant staff response to Bearman's charges, as well as copies of Bearman's letters to various parties making a whole host of charges, notes from various parties responding to Bearman's letters, and original documents about the Fair Use Debate.

  1. Bearman's charge that "you are completely ignoring the up front costs incurred by museums in documenting their collections" is absolutely untrue. UCB Mellon grant staff have spent hundreds of hours in trying to gather and analyze this information. As Bearman should know, reliable empirical data on this is hard to obtain because documentation of collections involves many different museum personnel and the extensiveness varies greatly from one museum object to another.

  2. Bearman's charges that Besser is "vehemently anti-licensing" are also false. Besser is critical of the fact that, in various domains, licensing has been used to inhibit Fair Use. But at the same time, Besser has acted as advisor to licensing schemes, helped them write grants and develop models, etc.

  3. Bearman's repeated implications that Besser is anti-AMICO are also untrue. On many, many occasions Besser has stated that he hopes that both AMICO and MDLC succeed. He has stated this to people actively involved in AMICO, as well as to people asking him whether they should get involved in AMICO.

  4. Bearman's charges about the inappropriateness of Besser's remarks in the Fair Use Debate ("shrill fear mongering,... McCarthyite", "offensive,... spreading rumors and fear") are obviously a matter of opinion that we cannot refute with facts. We would urge anyone interested to order the audiotape from the debate and listen to it. The tape clearly demonstrates (as does the abstract of his talk posted long before the debate) that Besser is not opposing AMICO but is defending Fair Use in a debate about Fair Use. Besser states that Fair Use is being eroded by actions of commercial publishers and the entertainment industry, and that educators, museums, and others have very little power against these forces.
We urge people reading this webpage to help halt the spread of this erroneous information about our project.