Copywrong: why can’t we take pix inside Monticello?

A November 27 post at the popular suggests that the reason visitors aren't allowed to take pictures inside Monticello is– get this– copyright law. But according to Monticello spokesperson Wayne Mogielnicki, that's almost right.

"Our policy is no photos in the house," Mogielnicki. "It's for some legal and some practical reasons."

The legal reasons stem from the fact that Monticello does not own all its furniture and art, and some are reproductions by artists who may wish to control copying. Others objects are lent with special conditions. "We have some things on permanent loan where the owners are leery of having them photographed," says Mogielnicki. "When we have film crews come in doing travel pieces or documentaries, there are things they can't photograph by themselves– only in situ."

In other words, Monticello doesn't want to break any deals it has made to obtain a particularly sweet piece. "Sometimes the guides misstate this as saying we don't have copyright, and the head guide has assured me he will address this," Mogielnicki says. Still, there's another really big reason why in-house photography is verboten: it could distract the non-photographers.

"It would be impractical and would diminish the quality of the tour," says Mogielnicki, "and it would slow the tour."



flash is also a problem

The problem isn't flash or copyright, it is transparency; those folks who run Jefferson's estate are control-addicted xenophobes who would rather sooner turn their backs upon their own relatives than further open up Monticello. It's a good thing that Jefferson's architecture stands to remind us that his message was about openness in government, a message in stark contrast to Monticello's current "owners".