Copyrighting artwork: Copyrighting artwork


By Bhavisha Parekh

The East Side Gallery is a 1.3km-long brightly painted stretch of the Berlin Wall which divided East and West Berlin for almost 30 years, and has now become an emotive fixture in Europe’s modern art heritage.

The outdoor exhibition space is now embroiled in a copyright controversy after Berlin council destroyed artworks painted on the wall and reproduced others without the permission of the original artists.

21 artists are suing Berlin council over the renovation of the wall; the artists were offered £2,700 each to re-create their original art work, which they found offensive. Some of the artists have launched intellectual property claims suing Berlin council for theft of their original artwork after the council re-created the artists’ work.

The artwork created on the Berlin wall was not intellectually protected; however after 1989, the artwork became a very popular tourist destination. Copyright of the artwork would have been automatic once there was any record in any form that the artwork had been created. 

Tracing the record of the artwork created by the Berlin Wall artists may not be difficult as over the years their work has been viewed by millions of tourists and has been displayed in newspapers and the TV.

How would others protect their work?

However how would someone who creates artwork on a much smaller scale protect their artwork? The easiest way to copyright artwork is to photograph and catalogue it. Each photograph should be date stamped on your computer enabling you to easily prove that you created the work first. 

Should artwork be copied after this then a specialist intellectual property solicitor can assist you in lodging a claim for copyright infringement.

Intellectual property law is a very complex area of law, with many continuing developments. 

For more in depth information on copyright please call Contact Law free on 0800 1777 162 and speak to one of our trained advisors today.

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