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repurpose of purchased images from paper napkins/serviettes

Posted: Wed Sep 14, 2016 6:42 am
by Mouse
Hi there, I know this might have been covered already but I need to clarify!

I purchase paper serviettes and napkins cut them up/cut out images from them and put them all together to create various designs as a collage on to form a light and then sell these at markets - Am I infringing on copyright by doing this or is this ok as with each light I am creating a totally new design of several images put together? If there is an artist name below the image I always try to incorporate that into their image.

Thank you for your help.

Posted: Wed Sep 14, 2016 11:02 am
by AndyJ
Hi Susan,

In case you haven't already seen it, take a look at this recent thread on a very similar topic.

If you also look back at the previous threads mentioned in my reply there you will see that in general re-using an original of copyright work without actually copying it does not infringe copyright. There are exceptions, for instance the right to issue copies to the public may be infringed if the original work has not previously been published, but other than these, the principle of exhaustion of rights will apply. However a recent case before the Court of Justice of the European Union known as Allposters served to remove some of the certainty which previously existed in this area of the law. You can read more about the Allposters case here.

UK copyright law prevents adaptations (such as films of books, translations of books, public readings of books etc) of some copyright works without the author's permission, but this stipulation does not apply to artistic works such as the pictures on the napkins you wish to use. The only protection which may apply in your case is the so-called right of integrity of the artist. This right is supposed to protect the artist's work from being subject to derogatory treatment. However, merely incorporating their works into yours in the way you describe, is unlikely to be sufficient to amount to derogatory treatment. Your treatment would have to distort or mutilate the original work in a way which was prejudicial to the honour or reputation of the artist. Ironically where the artistt is anonymous, and his name has never been associated with the work, the integrity right cannot be invoked. This applies for instance where the artitst is an employee, and his employer owns the copyright. What's more, the integrity right is a personal right owned by the artist and cannot been transferred to the owner, so the manufacturer of the napkins cannot claim infringement on behalf of the artist.

Posted: Thu Sep 15, 2016 8:17 am
by Mouse
Thank you very much for your helpful reply, Andy.
It has answered my question and for the most part I feel that I should be alright with what I am doing.
Thank you
Best regards