Anyone who knows the history of copyright knows that we have deviated so far from the original intent as to make it a totally different beast than originally intended and now thanks to a bunch heirs of some French designers we have seen the bang-your-head-against-a-brick-wall extent to which it has been perverted.
According to the British Journal of Photography (BJP) there are some images in the Getty Images’ stock library that are now infringing on because they have certain designer’s chairs in the images.
Let that settle for a minute while I get you some background.
It seems that the heirs of some designers that worked with architect Le Corbusier, together with the Le Corbusier Foundation, took offence that Getty Images had pictures in their library that these long dead designers had created and that they weren’t getting paid for their use.
So as in all cases like this they took the matter to court where they sued Getty Images for copyright infringement and guess what?
Yes you read that right. Getty Images was sued because chairs created by these dead designers where used in images – images by the way that are from third party photographers – and they were found guilty of copyright infringement. Here’s a snippet from the court case:
“Basically, there are two notions of copyright going against each other in this particular case,” says [the plaintiffs’ lawyer] de Leusse. “Photographers’ copyright, and the designers’ rights. Very much like a photographer needs the authorisation of people featured in their photos before selling them, they also need the authorisation of the intellectual property rights’ holders when it comes to works of art such as these objects.”
Chairs – copyright infringement – have we lost all snaity on this issue?
Of course Getty then compounds the problem by passing the blame and responsibility onto the photographers as you can see from this email sent to all contributing photographers.
You are responsible under your agreements with us to submit only content for which you have the necessary rights. Using this case as an example, while you may hold a copyright in a particular image or clip, if it contains even a fraction of a Le Corbusier piece then you may not have all the necessary rights under French law to provide that content and therefore may be liable for copyright infringement under French law in respect of the furniture featured.
And people wonder why I reacted the way I did on Google+ when I posted the news that companies like Google, Microsoft, and Netflix want a new DRM – or as they put encryption – media specification into HTML5. The fact is neither that nor this abomination of copyright law interpretation by a French courts will do anything to protect stuff. It will only make life more difficult for users and creative content producers.
This is just wrong and should not stand.
Oh and the image of the chair is a Le Corbusier chair and one of the 38 images that I found with a simple Bing search.