Norowzian loses copyright claim

A top commercials director has lost the latest stage in his battle to prove that his work was ripped off and used for a national TV campaign.

A top commercials director has lost the latest stage in his battle

to prove that his work was ripped off and used for a national TV

campaign.



In a decision eagerly awaited by the UK ad industry, the Court of Appeal

has rejected a damages claim by Mehdi Norowzian against Guinness and

Arks, the Dublin agency, for breach of copyright.



But the verdict has prompted a warning from Norowzian’s lawyers that it

is a major blow for agencies and directors, many of whom would be left

without the copyright protection that made their talents a saleable

commodity.



The legal dispute was sparked by a 1995 commercial called

’anticipation’, which featured a drinker dancing maniacally around a

pint of Guinness as it settled.



Norowzian claimed the ad was copied from a short film called Joy, which

he had made for his showreel.



After Norowzian refused an offer from Arks to direct the commercial, the

agency made it with a different director, actor and storyboard but

employed ’jump cutting’ and other techniques used in Joy.



The director was appealing against Mr Justice Rattee’s 1998 dismissal of

his claim.



The judge ruled that Joy was neither a dramatic work nor a recording of

a dramatic work entitled to protection under the 1988 Copyright, Designs

and Patents Act.



The appeal court judges conceded that although there were striking

similarities, Norowzian’s copyright had not been breached because there

was no copyright in ’mere style or technique’.



They said that although Mr Justice Rattee was wrong to conclude that Joy

was not a dramatic work, they accepted his finding that a substantial

part of it had not been copied in ’anticipation’.



Charles Swan, a lawyer at the media law firm, Simkins Partnership, said:

’The confirmation that style and technique are not copyright protected

in themselves is relevant across all media.’



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