21.10 Best Laid Plans: getting the copyright – right?!

Presenter: Virginia Power.

Virginia lectures at the University of the West of England, whilst also studying for her PhD. Her talk reflected the wide experience Virginia has with copyright and Intellectual Property Rights and complemented both preceding presentations by Ben Wright and Maurizio Borghi. Virginia chose five topics she shares with students:

  • Freedom of Panorama
  • Intellectual Property Act 2014 – Amendments
  • Cases in Architecture and Design
  • 3D and Intellectual Property issues
  • Resources

Freedom of Panorama
modip1This relates to the taking of photographs in public spaces which include buildings and/or sculptures. Many people have been surprised to find that this is by no means a given right and risked being harmonized more restrictively within the EU. The amendment was not passed, but where it was illegal to take such photographs, for example in France and Italy, it remains so. Victoria illustrated this succinctly with two nightscapes, one of an illuminated Gherkin (30 St Mary Axe) and one of an illuminated Eiffel Tower. Whilst the Gherkin photo is perfectly legal, the Eiffel Tower’s is not, infringing because of the light display (though possibly any photo of the Eiffel Tower, day or night is an infringement because of French law).

IPA 2014
modip2Some changes have been made to try and reduce minor litigation cases. The creator of the design will now, in general, be the owner of the design rather than the commissioners and making it easier to identify what qualifies for an unregistered design. It also makes copying a registered design a criminal act. Using an unregistered design for teaching purposes, however, is not an infringement.

Case Studies
modip3Joy of joys! Audience participation! Guaranteed to stimulate the little grey cells and get the competitive natures in gear.

1) An architect employed by a client produces some designs, the two parties then have a falling out and it becomes apparent that the new architects employed by the client have used the designs. The infringement of the copyright of the original architect will depend on how substantial the use is judged to be.

2)  Watching the film from the Milan part of the Dezeen and MINI World Tour, 2013, ‘Milan is a breeding ground for people who copy our products’, was quite depressing viewing. That people ever manage to keep hold of their intellectual property is amazing given the obstacles. One almost insurmountable problem is the enforcement of legislation in various countries where the infringements are taking place. It results in loss of immediate revenue and, where the copies are poor quality, loss of reputation. http://www.dezeen.com/2013/04/22/milan-is-a-breeding-ground-for-people-who-copy-our-products/

modip43) Qatar fakes. Apparently ‘the biggest case of public counterfeiting in the history of Design’ (http://www.qatarfakes.com). In which a Spanish company accuses the State of Qatar of wholesale copying, and such poor copies as to be a hazard to traffic. (See for example http://www.architectural-review.com/fakes-in-the-spotlight/8634823.article) This led to a discussion of the issue of moral rights, as well as copyrights.

3D and IP issues
modip5The rise of the 3D printer has raised a number of issues, including: What rights are involved? How are they to be regulated? Virginia introduced the audience to the writing of Dr. Dinusha Mendis from the Centre of Intellectual Property Policy and Management at Bournemouth University.

Virginia was thanked for an entertaining and thought provoking talk.

Report by: Philip Pearson, Courtauld Institute of Art

  • Images by Sally Bell, featuring MoDiP (Museum of Design in Plastics, Arts University Bournemouth).

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