Designers celebrate equal copy rights

June 4, 2012

On the 23rd of May, Elle Decoration celebrated the success of its petition for equal rights in the UK regarding intellectual property. Prior to this petition, copyright on work by designers in the UK was only held for 25 years after their death. This was in stark contrast to copyright covering other creative mediums, such as film, art and literature. Those mediums could retain their copyright until 70 years after the original author’s death.

More protection for designers

Until the new changes, it was extremely easy for people to copy the work of designers and get away with selling cheap imitations. Much like music or video piracy, this has had a negative impact upon the market, and left designers out of pocket, as their hard work is being ripped off and sold by other people. People are buying cheap imitations to save money because they are available. While there will always be people who value the designer’s mark and the quality of their work, many people are choosing to buy copied alternatives because of the lower price.

Because of the lax copyright laws, these imitators could get away with copying designs. Elle Decoration stated in their original petition to the UK government that they ‘believe this amounts to UK-endorsed intellectual property theft’.

Artistic protection

The new copyright amendments only apply to ‘artistic’ designs of manufactured goods, including things such as jewellery, lamps and furniture. Other designs are not covered by the copyright laws. The changes to the copyright laws will not apply retrospectively, meaning that retailers selling items that would now class as infringing copyright on designer’s work will be able to sell their excess stock.

Until the new changes were announced, the UK had been one of the only countries in the EU that placed a limit on the length of copyright protection on works made using an industrial process.

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