Wednesday 27 August 2014

Background Copyright troubles Sally Cooper

From time to time I remember the essay question : “Original research = intelligent plagiarism. Discuss”. Particularly, it comes to mind whenever I come across disparate pieces of information and want to link them. The link in what follows is Sunday (day of the week) and buildings (or rather pictures of buildings) : no claim is made to originality (or intelligence).

On Sunday last (so August 2014) I went to the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery titled “Virginia Woolf : Art, Life and Vision  A few days earlier I had read the exciting post of Eleonora Rosati on IPKat [ Thursday, 21 August 2014 : Taking a selfie inside the National Gallery: a copyright infringement?  ] which brought the news that “following similar moves by a number of other UK institutions .... the National Gallery in London has changed its strict no-photos-(please) policy”.

Was it the case (I asked myself) that the National Portrait Gallery was one of the “other UK institutions” ? Could I (for example) place myself in front of T.S. Eliot in this photograph and take a selfie of Virginia Woolf leaning towards me (replacing T.S. Eliot)?   Alas, the website of the National Portrait Gallery is clear that
“Photography is not permitted in temporary exhibitions or displays with loans”

So no photograph. But two thoughts :
1) on period of copyright : the line (bottom of the photograph on the website) is (C) National Portrait Gallery London. Lady Ottoline Morrell took the photograph of Eliot and Woolf in 1924. She died in 1938. So copyright expired in 2008 ?

20 on Representation of certain artistic works on public display” : Section 62 Copyright,Designs and Patents Act 1988 ('CDPA') applies to “buildings” and provides that “The copyright in such .... is not infringed by ...... making a photograph ... of it”. The follow-on is that “ Nor is the copyright infringed by the issue to the public of copies, or the communication to the public, of anything whose making was, by virtue of this section, not an infringement of the copyright”. So presumably I can take a photograph of the building that is the National Portrait Gallery and include that photograph in a (greetings) card which I post (online) on social media and post (envelope-with-stamp) to family and friends and others WITHOUT risk of an allegation of copyright infringement ?

On Sunday a couple of years ago (September 2012) I visited Spa in Belgium for the F1 Grand Prix and took a seat in the stand at Eau Rouge (being an “uphill corner” on the circuit). So a chord was struck when Lee Curtis published on the Linked In Group of Automotives+ IP news that “ .... Infiniti have applied to register the trade mark EAU ROUGE in the US for cars, despite the fact the mark has been registered in the EU by the famous race track”

The detail that attracted attention was Lee’s reference to “the UKIPO practice on the registration of the names of famous buildings”. The relevant paragraph in the Manual – headed FAMOUS BUILDINGS (Pictorial representations (emphasis supplied) or names of well known buildings) - contains the text :
“traders in the area of a famous building, which is likely to be a tourist attraction, should be free to produce mementos and ornaments bearing the name or representation (emphasis supplied) of the building without infringing the rights of another."
Also the text :
“if the building is a tourist attraction then the objection should be raised”. 
As to where it leads :
A) If I take a photograph of the building that is the National Portrait Gallery and thereafter distribute this photograph – the law of copyright sanctions this activity : section 62 CDPA 1988 (above)
B) If I take a photograph of the building that is the National Portrait Gallery and try to register this (representation) as a trade mark at the UK Trade Mark Registry, there is likely to be discussion with the Registry as to whether the mark applied for is a famous building / tourist attraction : see Manual / UKIPO practice (above)
C) The interests of the National Portrait Gallery lie in the UK Trade Mark Registry coming to the conclusion that the building that is the National Portrait Gallery is a famous building / tourist attraction so that my attempt to register is refused
D) But such a conclusion means (presumably) that an Application of the National Portrait Gallery to try to register a photograph of the building that is the National Portrait Gallery must also fail.

So (I ask myself) will the public-spirited owners of buildings which have a “Photographic Policy” be amending same with the note “This building is a famous building / tourist attraction” in the hope this deflects / reduces the possibility of a photograph (representation) of that building being registered by a third party as a trade mark ?

1 comment:

  1. On the subject of Lady Ottoline Morrell's 1924 photograph of Eliot and Woolf, one needs to be cautious about assumptions regarding photographs made prior to 1 July 1957 (when the 1956 Act came into force).
    Under the Copyright Act 1911 (s 21) the term of protection for photographs was fifty years from the making of the original negative. This appears to apply irrespective of whether the resulting photograph was ever published, something which contrasts with the treatment of unpublished literary, musical or dramatic works, and engravings under the same Act.
    So under the 1911 provisions copyright in the 1924 portrait was due to end on 31 December 1974.
    Section 3 of the 1956 Act brought photographs firmly into the category of artistic works, and thus introduced separate treatments for published and unpublished photographs similar to those which the 1911 Act had provided for literary, musical and dramatic works. Fortunately, paragraph 2 of Schedule 7 (Transitional Arrangements) means, effectively, that the new provisions do not apply to photographs taken before commencement, irrespective of their publication status, so the term for them remains fifty years from the end of the year in which the photograph was taken, and then expires.