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A ‘c’ in a circle the size of a red London bus.

The distinction between copyright and a protection racket can only be made in a court of law. Usually, it’s a contest between inspiration and greed. But sometimes the crucible can be something as lowly as kitsch on a tea towel.

By SIMON STOKES [The Art Newspaper] – Copyright is about protecting original styles and creative skill and investment as much as it is about protecting an image from exact/literal copying. Yet others who use photographs and images as inspiration for their works will feel uneasy. The boundary between the expression of an idea which copyright protects and the underlying idea which cannot be protected is a fluid one.

A visit to any London souvenir shop will reveal plenty of digitally manipulated images of a red London bus on Westminster Bridge with the tower of Big Ben in the background on products as diverse as tea caddies, postcards, coasters and so on. The idea that this scene and its treatment could be monopolised sounds absurd but that is what the Temple Island case arguably does. The case may go to appeal and, in any event, decisions of the Patents County Court are not binding precedent. Yet, given the paucity of UK copyright cases, the case is bound to have some influence. If such cases and outcomes become more common, then the need in the UK to revisit the so-called fair dealing exceptions to copyright in order to strengthen them to permit the transformative re-use of copyright works, for example for parody or to create new artistic works, will become more pressing.

Continued at The Art Newspaper | More Chronicle & Notices.

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