Intellectual property rightsCreator copyright
Does copyright vest automatically in the creator, or must the creator register copyright to benefit from protection?
The author of a work made on or after 1 August 1989 is automatically the first owner of any copyright in it (Copyright Designs and Patent Act 1988 (CDPA)). There is no need for registration. The predecessor of the CDPA, the Copyright Act 1956, provided for the same. There are exceptions to the general rule, including literary, dramatic, musical or artistic works made by employees in the course of employment, Crown copyright, parliamentary copyright and copyright owned by certain international organisations.Copyright duration
What is the duration of copyright protection?
The duration of copyright protection is as follows:
- artistic works: 70 years from the end of the calendar year in which the author dies;
- for works of joint authorship or co-authorship: 70 years from the end of the calendar year in which the last known author dies;
- if the work is of unknown authorship: copyright expires at the end of the period of 70 years from the end of the calendar year in which the work was made; or if, during that period, the work is made available to the public, at the end of the period of 70 years from the end of the calendar year in which it is first so made available; and
- for computer-generated literary, dramatic, musical or artistic works: 50 years from the end of the calendar year in which the work was made.
Can an artwork protected by copyright be exhibited in public without the copyright owner’s consent?
Yes, for paintings, sculptures and other artistic works. However, note that under the CDPA, consent is required for the ability to perform, show or play a literary, dramatic or musical work in public.Reproduction of copyright works in catalogues and adverts
Can artworks protected by copyright be reproduced in printed and digital museum catalogues or in advertisements for exhibitions without the copyright owner’s consent?
Under English law, the fair dealing exception permits the limited use of copyright material without consent from the copyright owner for the purpose of criticism and review. It may be possible to rely upon the fair dealing exception in the case of printed and digital museum catalogues. Much will depend on the context of the catalogue. Factors to be considered are commercial use, quantity and proportionality. For example, a free leaflet or catalogue that includes guidance or commentary on the nature and purpose of the artworks in the exhibition may be regarded as fair. Advertisements, however, are less likely to fall within the scope of this exception.
In general, museums and galleries considering reproducing an artwork protected by copyright in catalogues and advertisements will need to carefully consider the exemptions under English law and the context before reproducing the artwork without consent.Copyright in public artworks
Are public artworks protected by copyright?
Certain categories of artistic works may be reproduced without the copyright owner’s consent if they are permanently situated in a public place or in premises open to the public. These include buildings, sculptures, models for buildings and works of artistic craftsmanship. Copyright in these works is not infringed by making a graphic work representing it, taking a photograph or making a film of it, or broadcasting a visual image of it. This exception does not extend to all forms of public art, such as street art, therefore legal advice should be sought in relation to other artistic works.Artist's resale right
Does the artist’s resale right apply?
The artist’s resale right (ARR), also known as the droit de suite, applies in the UK. The ARR entitles authors of original works of art in which copyright subsists and their successors in title to a royalty each time one of their works is resold through an auction house or an art market professional. The right to this royalty lasts for the same period as copyright in that work of art. There are certain exceptions to the ARR, including where the work being resold was bought directly from the artist less than three years previously and it is being resold for €10,000 or less. In addition, sales between private individuals, without the use of an art market professional, or to public, non-profit making museums do not attract royalty payments.
The ARR only applies when the sale price reaches or exceeds the sterling equivalent of €1,000 and is calculated on a sliding scale as follows:
Part of resale price
up to €50,000
between €50,000.01 and €200,000
between €200,000.01 and €350,000
between €350,000.01 and €500,000
in excess of €500,000
Royalties are also capped so that the total amount of the royalty paid for any single sale cannot exceed €12,500. ARR is exempt from VAT.
Collective management of ARR is compulsory in the UK. The two main collecting societies are the Artists’ Collecting Society and the Design and Artists Copyright Society, which collect and distribute the royalty. Individual artists and estates cannot seek payment directly from art market professionals.Moral rights
What are the moral rights for visual artists? Can they be waived or assigned?
Under English law, moral rights for visual artists are personal rights that apply to literary, dramatic, musical or artistic works and also to films. They were introduced by the CDPA and therefore only apply to artists living on or after 1 August 1989. The rights are as follows:
- the paternity right: the right to be identified as the author or director of a copyright work. This right lasts for the life of the author plus 70 years;
- the right of integrity: the right to object to derogatory treatment of a copyright work. This right lasts for the life of the author plus 70 years;
- false attribution: the right not to have a literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work falsely attributed to him or her as author and not to have a film falsely attributed to him or her as director. This right lasts for the life of the author plus 20 years; and
- the right of privacy: the right to privacy of certain films and photographs. This right lasts for the life of the author plus 70 years.
Moral rights can be waived and contracts often seek to do so. If a waiver is agreed, its terms should be specific so as to avoid uncertainty and should include, among other things, a detailed description of the specific work, whether the waiver is subject to conditions or subject to revocation, and whether it extends to licensees and successors in title to the owner (or prospective owner) of the copyright in the work.
Moral rights cannot be assigned; they will remain with the creator of the work, and pass to the artist’s estate on death.