Do you ever include designer furniture in your illustrations?

Concerns over legality of 2D representations of 3D industrially manufactured ‘artistic designs’ once law is repealed.

Copyright protection is to be extended or revived in 2016 for 3D ‘artistic designs’ that are industrially manufactured (e.g. an Eames chair), and also to 2D representations of the 3D designs (this includes illustrations). This will be brought into effect by the repeal of Section 52 of the Copyright Design and Patents Act (CDPA). Section 52 currently allows for copyright protection for “industrially exploited” artistic works for 25 years. Copyright for other artistic works is 70 years following the death of the creator.

Once Section 52 CDPA is repealed this year and ceases to have effect, Government confirm “any artistic work, whether two-dimensional or three-dimensional, which qualifies for copyright protection will enjoy the full term of the life of the creator plus 70 years (subject to any applicable exceptions)”. The intention appears to be primarily intended to prevent 3D copies of 3D works, such as furniture.

However, for illustrators this could mean that to draw an ‘artistic’ manufactured item and reproduce that drawing, copyright will need to be sought from the rights holder in the item. Government’s website says, ‘The primary types of work believed to be in scope were furniture, jewellery, ceramics, lighting and other homewares. This would be both the 3D manufacture and retail and the 2D representation in publishing.’

So if you are commissioned to depict, for example, a designer chair or vase, either as the main focus of the artwork or possibly incidentally you could be infringing the designer’s copyright if permission is not granted.

20th January 2016

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