Responses to Accusations Against
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
UC Berkeley Mellon Grant
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.
We urge people reading this webpage to help halt the spread of this erroneous
information about our project.
- Bearman's charge that "you are completely ignoring the up front costs
incurred by museums in documenting their collections" is
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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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
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.