Selling Framed Book Pages

'Is it legal', 'can I do this' type questions and discussions.
Post Reply
Sparkly
New Member
New  Member
Posts: 6
Joined: Tue Mar 09, 2021 6:14 pm

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.
User avatar
AndyJ
Oracle
Oracle
Posts: 2401
Joined: Fri Jan 29, 2010 12:43 am

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.
Advice or comment provided here is not and does not purport to be legal advice as defined by s.12 of Legal Services Act 2007
Sparkly
New Member
New  Member
Posts: 6
Joined: Tue Mar 09, 2021 6:14 pm

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.
User avatar
AndyJ
Oracle
Oracle
Posts: 2401
Joined: Fri Jan 29, 2010 12:43 am

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.
Advice or comment provided here is not and does not purport to be legal advice as defined by s.12 of Legal Services Act 2007
Sparkly
New Member
New  Member
Posts: 6
Joined: Tue Mar 09, 2021 6:14 pm

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.
Sparkly
New Member
New  Member
Posts: 6
Joined: Tue Mar 09, 2021 6:14 pm

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?
User avatar
AndyJ
Oracle
Oracle
Posts: 2401
Joined: Fri Jan 29, 2010 12:43 am

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.
Advice or comment provided here is not and does not purport to be legal advice as defined by s.12 of Legal Services Act 2007
Sparkly
New Member
New  Member
Posts: 6
Joined: Tue Mar 09, 2021 6:14 pm

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.
Post Reply