Selling Framed Book Pages

'Is it legal', 'can I do this' type questions and discussions.
Sparkly
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Selling Framed Book Pages

Post by Sparkly »

Hi everyone, I know there is a similar post about this from 2015 but wanted a more recent response in case anything had changed. I wanted to know if there is any intellectual copyright infringement if I were to buy a book (a book published in 2020), pull out the pages, frame them and sell them as individual pictures? There is no copying of the text / pictures, just the original page now in a frame or mount. There is no addition to each page - nothing written or drawn on it, only what was printed in the original book. Does this constitute an infringement because the book / page has been repurposed? Is a licence required to do this? Thank you for any responses in advance.
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Re: Selling Framed Book Pages

Post by AndyJ »

Hi Sparkly,

I'm not sure whether when you talk about the situation in 2015 you are referring to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) decision in a case known as Art&Allposters v Stichting Pictoright, but if you are, then no, the law hasn't changed since that decision. And the Allposters case may well be relevant here. That case looked at the situation where paper based posters featuring paintings which were protected by copyright were transferred onto a canvas backing in a way which removed the image from the paper substrate. The court held that as the works of art, as legally embodied in the posters, consisted of both the image itself and the substrate which carried the pigments, removing one element, the paper, amounted to altering the work as a whole, in effect creating a new work. This, the court said, meant that the rights holder had the right to authorise or not authorise the issuing of the 'new' works which were separate from the ones he had authorised under the licence held by Art&Allposters to make the paper posters. Although it was not explicitly stated, I can't help feeling that the court was also being swayed by the moral rights of the artists not to have his/her work treated in a derogatory way. They should not have done so because moral rights lie outside the competence of the EU. However given that the author lies at the heart of the European approach to copyright (the droit d'auteur) protection one can't help feeling that the judges may have approached the problem from a very Euro-centric way. Anyway, whatever their thinking, that decision left a tricky mess when it comes to re-purposing a copyright work in a way which neither copies it nor undermines the artist's right to control the distribution of his/her work.

But in the case which you have described there is no substitution of the medium (the paper pages), merely a division of the pages which are then mounted individually, so I can't see the Allposters decision being applicable. You don't say what works are involved here but I am assuming they are individual artistic works, rather than a long piece of text, meaning that the work depicted on each frame will be a complete work, rather than part of a larger work such as a piece of fiction. If it is the latter, then there may be a problem with whether this impinges on the moral right already referred to, for the artist not to have his/her work
subjected to derogatory treatment.

(2) For the purposes of this section—

(a)“treatment” of a work means any addition to, deletion from or alteration to or adaptation of the work, other than—

(i) a translation of a literary or dramatic work, or

(ii) an arrangement or transcription of a musical work involving no more than a change of key or register; and

(b) the treatment of a work is derogatory if it amounts to distortion or mutilation of the work or is otherwise prejudicial to the honour or reputation of the author or director;
(extract from section 80 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988). As you can see, mutilation might amount to an infringement of moral rights.

But other than in the context of a literary work which is being sub-divided, I don't think what you propose to do involves any liability for copyright infringement and is in accordance with the doctrine of exhaustion of rights.
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Re: Selling Framed Book Pages

Post by Sparkly »

Thank you AndyJ for the info provided. The book in question is the Charlie Mackesy - The Boy, the Mole, the Fox And the Horse. This is a story book but each page (most pages) are made up of a picture and a short piece of text. Would this be classed as mutilation of the works then as you have specified in the subject to derogatory treatment part b? A shame if it is classed as that because each page makes a beautifully inspirational picture. Thank you again for any responses in advance.
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Re: Selling Framed Book Pages

Post by AndyJ »

Hi sparkly,

Having just watched a short video featuring the book, I think it's fair to say that the individual pages don't form a continuous narrative, and so in my opinion dividing it into the individual pages would not amount to mutiliation. It is also important to note that under British copyright law, the moral right to not have one's work treated in a derogatory way is a fairly weak right and the author would need to show why the treatment had led to a diminution of his reputation or honour. Since you would not be disrespectful by making the individual framed pages, I think it would be hard to show how this negatively affected the author's honour.
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Re: Selling Framed Book Pages

Post by Sparkly »

Hi AndyJ,

I can’t thank you enough for taking the time to look into this for me. Might this argument be strengthened by the fact that individual prints of pages from this particular book are already being sold on the official website? Or is that a case of the author can do with their work whatever they choose to? May I also ask if selling these framed extracts would be allowed in the United States and Canada? I’m aware that there are slightly different copyright laws over there. Many thanks again in advance.
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Re: Selling Framed Book Pages

Post by Sparkly »

I mean selling them in the UK on Etsy for example and shipping them to USA or Canada?
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Re: Selling Framed Book Pages

Post by AndyJ »

Hi again Sparkly,

Yes I think that if the author feels it's OK for the publisher to sell the pages individually it would be hard to also sustain the argument that someone else doing the same thing was somehow detrimental to his reputation. As you will effectively be competiting with those sales, you can probably expect a bit of push back from the publishers. It would be sensible to keep careful records of all your purchases of the books which you turn into the framed prints as this will assist you in rebutting any accusation that you are copying the pages rather than re-purposing genuine book pages.

If anything, you may find the copyright law in the USA is more supportive of what you want to do. Their Fair Use doctrine tends to favour the transformative nature of any parallel exploitation of a copyright work, all other things being equal.Their equivalent of the exhaustion of rights, known as the first sale doctrine, would apply in just the same manner as in UK. And while some artists do have protection for their moral rights in the USA, it's limited to a very narrow category of works, mainly those intended for exhibition, and so you will be better off in that respect in the USA.
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Re: Selling Framed Book Pages

Post by Sparkly »

Your advice and time taken to help me understand this is much appreciated AndyJ. Thank you very much.
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Re: Selling Framed Book Pages

Post by Sparkly »

Hello everyone,

I hope all are well.

Following on from my question posted a few months ago regarding selling framed or mounted book pages - see below. Last night I received an intellectual copyright infringement notification from Etsy and have had all of my listings taken down from my shop. I’d really like to understand what it is that I’m doing wrong here. I am selling mounted or framed pages from a book that I have purchased. I’m not copying anything or changing any content. I love my little Etsy business and it provides some escape from my rather stressful day job, however, this notification has caused a great amount of anxiety and a sleepless night. I really don’t want to be doing anything wrong or getting myself into any trouble. I have closed my Etsy shop temporarily whilst I try and understand whether I can continue with this or knock it on the head.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
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Re: Selling Framed Book Pages

Post by AndyJ »

Hi Sparkly,

I'm sorry to hear that. You don't mention exactly what the complaint to Etsy concerns although I suspect it was alleging copyright infringement rather than trade mark or some other IP right. Assuming it was for copyright, you have the right under Etsy's policy to issue a counter-notice against the take down, since Etsy operates the US system created by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).

Etsy should have provided details of how to do this when they notified you about the complaint. Given the number of IP complaints Etsy receives, I suspect that, initially, they are all accepted at face value and not scrutinised to see if the complaint is legally justified. The counter notice allows you to put your side of the story. You can freely quote what I have written earlier in this thread to show that what you are doing does not amount to copyright infringement.

I suspect that the person who made the complaint was not the publisher of the Charlie Mackesy books but rather another seller who is doing something similar to you and is miffed about the competition. If that is the case then there are absolutely no grounds for such a complaint which could actually amount to restraint of trade.

Once you have sent your counter-notice Etsy are supposed to re-instate your listings and take no further part in the dispute, which then rests between you and the actual complainant. This allows you to find out exactly who has complained and how strong their case against you is. If it is another seller, then you can expect the matter to end there, since as I have said, they have no grounds for claiming copyright infringement over you exploiting the same idea as them. Possibly if everything about your framed prints matched one of their products then there might be grounds for claiming infringement of the expression of their idea, but this would be very shaky grounds since the other person will also have copied the idea (which is hardly novel*) from yet another person. Copyright only protects that which is original and not copied from another work. If it turns out that it is the publisher who has complained, then you face a longer period of dispute resolution as they will attempt to wear you down with endless letters full of veiled threats and almost credible legal nonsense. However as I have outlined above, you are perfectly entitled to use pages from the books provided that you bought the books and haven't made any physical copies of the pages.

However if you are selling the framed pictures as a form of relaxation to compensate for stress at work, you may not relish the stress which will come with battling with the publisher's lawyers, irrespective of the strength of your position. That will have to be your decision.

Good luck.

*I myself did this many years ago when I created a framed page of an old Punch book as a leaving gift.
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Re: Selling Framed Book Pages

Post by Sparkly »

Hi Andy,

Thank you so much for your prompt reply. I can see from looking at Etsy that there has been a take down of another member who sells similar items to me - mounted pages of the same book. There are a few of us that do the same and up until now it’s been harmonious. Here is the email I received - not sure if I should have copied and pasted it into here but I’ve taken the name of the person from the company off and tried to anonymise it. What worries me is that it suggests it’s come from the author himself?

Etsy received a report of copyright infringement from C****** M****** alleging that certain content in your Etsy shop infringe their intellectual property. When a complaining party submits a report of alleged infringement that complies with our policies, we are required to remove the content cited in the report in accordance with our Intellectual Property Policy. Etsy deactivated the 56 listing(s) specified as infringing and, where applicable, refunded the listing fee.

The complaining party identified exactly which listings infringe their intellectual property; this decision was not made by us.

Do not create additional listings for this content unless the issue is resolved with the other party. Repeat notices of infringement may result in the loss of account privileges.

Learn more about how Etsy handles these types of reports.

If you have questions about the report, please contact *********** (acamarfilms.enforcement@incoproip.com), the authorized representative of C M who provided Etsy with the report. Etsy is not in a position to speak on behalf of the complaining party and cannot provide legal advice. You can also speak to an attorney.

Please read our DMCA counter notice policy to see if you qualify to file a counter notice. If you have a good faith belief that this report of copyright infringement involves a misidentification or mistake, you may consider submitting a DMCA counter notice. If you believe you qualify, you can submit a DMCA counter notice using the following link:
************

Below is the information provided in the notice:
C********* M********* Representative's Information
Name: ***********
Company: INCOPRO Ltd
Email: acamarfilms.enforcement@incoproip.com
C********* M*******Intellectual Property
C******** M******** copyright
Authorized examples of the work: www**************

Do you think this is a case of putting pressure on an individual to stop doing something they don’t want them to even though there’s no ground for them not doing it?

I really want to continue with my shop but feel intimidated by the company and worry about the process of the counter notice. What is the worst that can happen? Might I be carted off to prison for not being able to pay a huge legal fee if I lose? (I know that sounds dramatic but I do tend to over think these things).

Here’s hoping for Andy’s reassurances.
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Re: Selling Framed Book Pages

Post by AndyJ »

Hi Sparkly,

As you are probably now aware Incopro is brand protection company which is acting on behalf of Charlie Mackesy. If you want to fight this takedown you will probably need to deal with them rather than the author himself. As far as copyright is concerned, legally speaking, nothing has changed from what I said earlier about this. The only difference is that you have a claims management company to deal with, rather than the legal department of a publisher.

However I am now not entirely convinced that the claim just relates to copyright in the artwork. It seems more likely that if you used the names of the characters (The boy, the mole, the fox and the horse) in your listing this could involve trade mark infringement. The book title has been registered as a trade mark by Charlie Mackesy. Additionally, Charlie Mackesy's name and signature are also both registered trade marks. All three trade marks are registered in, amongst others, Class 16 which includes "prints in the nature of pictures". If you only used any of the marks descriptively then there would be no infringement of the trade mark, but if you used the book title or Mackesy's name in order to sell the framed prints directly then that could amount to either trade mark infringement or passing off, depending on the exact context. This is a more difficult issue to resolve without going to court, as the line between 'using the mark in the course of trade' ( Section 10 (1) of the Trade Marks Act 1994) which is infringement, and using the mark descriptively ( section 11 (2)(c)) which is not, is extremely fine. Obviously it will depend on the exact wording you used in your Etsy listing.

If Incopro is claiming that there was trade mark infringement, then it probably isn't worth your while fighting this as it will be messy and expensive to resolve the issue and your chances of success are probably only at best 50/50 (again depending on the wording used in your Etsy listing). But if you didn't use any of the words in the title or Mackesy's name, you should be off the hook as far as trade mark infringement is concerned.

Obviously I can only tell you what the law says, and I can't advise you on how to conduct negotiations (if you wish to go ahead) from here on, and so you would need to instruct your own solicitor in order to get specific, personalised legal advice.
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Re: Selling Framed Book Pages

Post by Sparkly »

Thank you for your time spend in responding to my query again AndyJ. I understand completely that you’re not advising me, just helping me to understand the law.

In essence then, this is how I understand it; if I continued to sell my mounted pages from the CM book, having not copied them by any means, nor added to or taken anything from the page and I don’t use the name of the author or the title of the book or signature in my listing or description, I’m not infringing upon any intellectual property, copyright or trademark laws?

I have emailed Incopro to ask for clarification so that I can better understand but I haven’t submitted a counter notice via Etsy.

If I changed my title and descriptions on my listings so that they no longer include the trademarked words, I would assume these would then constitute new listings - even though I’m essentially selling the same product? I’m aware that the Etsy email mentions not to create additional listings for this content until the dispute is resolved.

Thank you again for taking the time to answer my posts.
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Re: Selling Framed Book Pages

Post by AndyJ »

Hi Sparkly,

Yes, no mention of the trade marks and only using original pages from the books should be a safe option. However now that you on their radar I think you should expect more harassment from Incopro if you do go down that path.

I forgot to mention in my previous reply that the DMCA counter-notice technically only applies to alleged copyright infringement. It can't be used where trade mark infringement is alleged. On the plus side, trade mark law forbids the making of groundless threats (section 21 et seq), so if you don't use any in the description of your listsings, Incopro should not use TM law as the basis of any claim against you via Etsy in future.
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Re: Selling Framed Book Pages

Post by pframes »

Hi
New to this forum. We buy books, remove the pages, mount and frame and sell online. I was under the impression that so long as we had purchased the books - they were ours to do as we pleased with them so long as we didnt copy, photocopy or change them. I know there have been a number of posts on this - but I just need confirmation that we are not breaking any copyright laws as we occassionally get people telling us that we are selling their prints and that we are breaching their copyright which I dont believe to be true. There are a number of sellers doing the same thing on Ebay, Etsy etc - we cant all be in the wrong surely ??
A simple reply would be really appreciated.
Cheers
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