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Intellectual Property Law

New Matter SUMMER 2019, Volume 44, Number 2

IP and Art: An International Perspective

Cristina Manasse
Manasse Studio Legale, Milan

THE DAVID OF MICHELANGELO AND THE UNLICENSED COMMERCIAL USE OF IMAGES OF CULTURAL GOOD: A BAN FOR ALL SOUVENIRS?

Further to a very recent conference in Bologna1 on the subject of copyright and cultural heritage, today we consider the reproductions of cultural heritage assets for commercial purposes, a topic of two court decisions2 which up to now are isolated cases. We especially consider these cases in light of the difficulties in interpreting the relevant regulations.

The first court judgement concerns the image of the Teatro Massimo in Palermo for the 2013 advertising campaign commissioned by a bank, aimed at promoting its own agencies present in the area. The second, a court order, refers to the reproduction of the image of Michelangelo’s David on the brochures and on the website used by a travel agency for the promotion of its services, including the sale of tickets for the "Galleria dell’Accademia." In both cases we are dealing with cultural assets, but in the first case the goods are situated in a public place and are visible to everyone: does its placement in a public place allow anyone to be able to photograph it and freely use the shots taken? In the case of the David, the property is located in a secure place with limited and regulated access.

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