ART IN THE PUBLIC DOMAIN – IS IT FREE TO USE?

Howat Avraam Copyright

British Airways has come under fire for using the artwork of street artists who created the acclaimed 2013 Chance Street Mural in Shoreditch.

The artists have criticised BA for using their artwork without permission as part of the company’s billboard advertising in the same area of London.  On a similar theme, McDonald’s has recently been the subject of legal action for using images by a cult New York artist in its restaurants.

Kim Huggins, Intellectual Property Solicitor comments:   These examples are a reminder that because an artwork appears in a public place, it does not mean that it is free to use.  This is the same principle that applies to content on the internet.   Copyright arises automatically following the recording of someone’s creative expression.  This applies to a street artist in the same way that it would with any other artist.  In addition to copyright, there are also moral rights which protect against others altering or adapting an artist’s work.  These cases show that even big brands can get it wrong and the fall out can be detrimental in terms of damages that may be awarded and to a company’s reputation.  The simple commercial solution is to approach an artist and request permission to use their work and agree specific terms.

CONTACT US

Howat Avraam Solicitors provide Commercial, Employment, Intellectual Property and Contract Dispute advice to companies, business owners and individuals.  As business owners ourselves, we have a pragmatic in-house approach to resolving issues before they arise by working alongside our clients, often on monthly retainers.  We are commercial, practical and entrepreneurial in our approach to legal services.

To discuss any Intellectual Property matter on a no obligation basis, please contact Kim Huggins on 020 3735 6700 or email Kim at Kim.Huggins@hasolicitors.co.uk.  Alternatively, visit our website at www.howatavraamsolicitors.co.uk.

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