The book 1000 jaar Sinterklaas (1,000 Years of Saint Nicholas) published by LM Publishers doesn’t infringe the copyright to the book De Beeldenstorm (The Iconoclasts) published by WalburgPers, according to a ruling issued on 9 August by the district court in Gelderland.

Template

The case was especially sensitive since the Saint Nicholas book was initially due to be issued by WalburgPers, which had already sent its designer the layout template for The Iconoclasts. When the Saint Nicholas book was nearly finished, based in part on the same template, WalburgPers decided not to publish it after all. The project was subsequently taken over by LM Publishers.

Similar layout

WalburgPers later claimed that the layout of 1,000 Years of Saint Nicholas was too similar to the copyright-protected layout of The Iconoclasts. The court disagreed, pointing out that while the covers of the two books showed some similarity, there were clear differences in their design.

Sufficiently different

The court cited the different fonts, colours, sizes of the illustrations and the fact that the Saint Nicholas book was made of board. There were also marked differences in the internal layout of the two books. The court therefore concluded that the overall impression of 1,000 Years of Saint Nicholas was sufficiently different from that of The Iconoclasts and that there was consequently no infringement of copyright.

No copyright infringement

WalburgPers may have felt slightly cheated, since while it hadn’t in the end published the Saint Nicholas book, the layout was nevertheless based on the template for The Iconoclasts. This may be difficult to swallow, but if the result is a design that differs in many ways from the other book, copyright law won’t help you.