EDITORIAL: Norowzian case throws up interesting dilemma

By DOMINIC MILLS, campaignlive.co.uk, Friday, 31 July 1998 12:00AM

The Institute of Practitioners in Advertising was quick to rush out a press release last week welcoming the High Court’s ruling in the Guinness vs Norowzian case. The agency body believes that Mr Justice Rattee’s decision in favour of the advertiser and its agency, Arks, will ensure that ’inspiration’ does not become a copyright infringement issue.

The Institute of Practitioners in Advertising was quick to rush out

a press release last week welcoming the High Court’s ruling in the

Guinness vs Norowzian case. The agency body believes that Mr Justice

Rattee’s decision in favour of the advertiser and its agency, Arks, will

ensure that ’inspiration’ does not become a copyright infringement

issue.



It is indeed tempting to conclude that agencies are the winners - and

directors the losers - in this contest. While directors are left with no

protection for the artistry they bring to a film in post-production,

agencies are free to pilfer to their hearts’ content.



But if the IPA’s fears are that a ruling in favour of Norowzian would

give copyright protection to ideas - as opposed to the embodiment of

those ideas - those fears are surely misplaced.



The ruling, if upheld, establishes two things, neither of which is to do

with the protection of ideas. Firstly, finished (ie, edited) films are

not protected from anything but mechanical copying. Secondly, in British

law, the style of a film is distinct from its content. So the work of

those in charge of the style (directors) is exempt from copyright, while

the work of those in charge of content (writers) is protected.



One of two things must now happen: either the appeal judge will

interpret the existing law in a less literal fashion. Or the law must be

amended.



In the meantime, creatives would do well to reflect that if they are

free to use other people’s films, so others can use their work. It’s

hard not to agree with Oliver Maland, Norowzian’s lawyer, when he says:

’The losers will be the most innovative, the winners the least

innovative.’ Wherever they work.


This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk

X

You must log in to use Clip & Save

Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus

Additional Information

Campaign Jobs