Good and odd news

FIRST the good news on copyright and such. The French government is reviewing its law on authors' rights - the one frequently held up as an example of how things should be. Under intense pressure from publishers, an expert report recommended that employed journalists be stripped of their rights.

The European Federation of Journalists Authors' Rights Experts Group co-ordinated a letter-writing campaign, in which NUJ General Secretary Jeremy Dear wrote to M le Président du Republique pointing out that such a move would encourage "l' « Hollywoodisation » des médias globalisées" and the kind of cynicism involved in British tabloids' attacks on, for example, Europe and its leaders.

The proposal is now withdrawn.

Next, some troubling news. The Bar Association of the US State of Maryland is reported to be publishing books with a "shrink-wrap licence". Breaking the seal supposedly acknowledges that you don't own the book, you merely license it: and that you give up the right to re-sell or even lend it. No authors were benefited in the course of this manoeuvre, we can be sure.

EUVOG graphic
Untitled 2002: talc; © H Ekim
Now the deeply strange. Artist Graham Dolphin produced a series of works for the exhibition Rapture - Art's Seduction by Fashion at London's Barbican gallery, with labels such as "Untitled (Vogue, February 2000 - Dust) 2001: Magazine, vacuum cleaner bag contents, glue". Except that you won't see that one: Condé Nast, publisher of Vogue, sent a legal letter vaguely threatening a copyright lawsuit.

The Freelance can't, in fact, find any copyright reason for suppressing the work. Graham hasn't copied the mags, he's mutilated them. And UK law denies creators any moral rights in works for magazines, so the photographers couldn't object. [Added after press: maybe they could claim that the art was a derivative work.]

Condé Nast could possibly have relied on their trademarks, and a fun week in court it would have been too. As The Art Newspaper notes, all this raises interesting questions about Condé Nast's high-gloss art rag Tate.

And finally: in Los Angeles a district judge ordered the  Internet Entertainment Group to pay one Pamela Anderson $741,000, being a share of the profit it had made from selling a certain stolen videotape. She had no privacy to invade, but there was a stonking great breach of copyright. Which is good news. Probably.

Last modified: 15 December 2002 - © 2002 contributors
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