Copyright And Design Protection For Ugly Things Under The Romanian Law Within The European Union Framework

Author:Nicoleta Rodica Dominte
Position:Lecturer Ph.D., Faculty of Law
Pages:48-62
SUMMARY

The Berne Convention from 1886 and the Romanian copyright law do not use the word ugly as an impediment for copyright protection. We analyze the validity criteria, especially originality, in order to discover if an ugly literary, artistic or scientific work can be protected by law. Could ugliness have an influence on the concept of originality in terms of imposing a series of restrictions? Designs or works of applied art represent ornamental elements which are framed as beautiful. If these are ugly, will novelty and individual character be fulfilled? The answer lies in the law articles and in their interpretation. We will study the questions mentioned above through a comparative analysis of Romanian legislation, international conventions and European Union directives regarding copyright and designs, in order to discover if ugly things may be protected as Intellectual property law objects.

 
CONTENT
48 NICOLETA RODICA DOMINTE
COPYRIGHT AND DESIGN PROTECTION FOR UGLY THINGS
UNDER THE ROMANIAN LAW WITHIN THE EUROPEAN
UNION FRAMEWORK
Nicoleta Rodica DOMINTE,
“Alexandru Ioan Cuza” University, Iaşi, Romania
Abstract
The Berne Convention from 1886 and the Romanian copyright law do not use the word ugly
as an impediment for copyright protection. We analyze the validity criteria, especially originality,
in order to discover if an ugly literary, artistic or scientific work can be protected by law. Could
ugliness have an influence on the concept of originality in terms of imposing a series of
restrictions?
Designs or works of applied art represent ornamental elements which are framed as beautiful.
If these are ugly, will novelty and individual character be fulfilled? The answer lies in the law
articles and in their interpretation.
We will study the questions mentioned above through a comparative analysis of Romanian
legislation, international conventions and European Union directives regarding copyright and
designs, in order to discover if ugly things may be protected as Intellectual property law objects.
Keywords: Private law, Intellectual property law, Copyright, Designs, ugliness.
1. A few considerations about beautiful and ugly in literary and artistic
works
In the beginning of the article, we would like to present a case about Gustave
Klimt's faculty paintings. In 1891, two Viennese artists, Gustave Klimt and Franz
Matsch were commissioned to paint the ceiling of the great hall from the
University of Vienna. The oil paintings had to present the four faculties of the
university. Gustave Klimt created three paintings: Philosophy, Medicine and
Jurisprudence. In 1900, the Philosophy painting was presented at the seventh
Vienna Secession exhibition. A huge scandal bursts and Klimt painting was
criticised by the public, press and specialists from his own country. The critic
remarks extended to his other two faculty paintings: Medicine and
Jurisprudence. One of the main issues from the observations was the ugliness of
the bodies. An important number of professors from the University of Vienna
signed a petition against Gustave Klimt's Philosophy painting, in which it was
E-mail: nicoleta_dominte@yahoo.com.
 Lecturer Ph.D., Faculty of Law.
Law Review vol. IV, issue 1, Januar
y
-June 2014, p. 48-62
Copyright and design protection for ugly things … 49
mentioned the “aesthetic failure” of the author. On the other hand, the painting
was awarded with a golden medal at the World International Exhibition in Paris
in 1900. Also, Klimt's faculty paintings were defended by foreigners. In 1945,
Gustave Klimt faculty paintings were destroyed, but there are black and white
photos with these three contested paintings1. From a juridical point of view, the
main question is if Gustave Klimt faculty paintings were a work of art which can
be protected by copyright? Can the ugliness from a work of art be protected by
copyright?
If nature created beautiful and ugly things, should artworks portray only the
beautiful ones? “Aesthetic is the science of beauty, but it's an imprecise one2. Science
works with objective notions, while aesthetics performs with subjective elements
that have an imprecise nature. Aristotle and Kant said that ugly things can be
expressed in a beautiful way in artworks3. Though, natural ugly things can be
portrayed in art within a beautiful way. Such works of art are a poetic trope,
because an ugly subject is embodied in beautiful artworks.
In order to continue our analysis, we would like to explain the meaning of
beauty” and “ugly”. The Oxford English Dictionary discloses us that beauty is a
combination of qualities that pleases the aesthetic senses, while ugly refers to
things that are unpleasant or repulsive to see or hear4.
We would like to emphasize the supremacy of the ideal beauty in ancient
Greece. Plato mentioned that beauty refers to beautiful human body, soul, habits,
thoughts, knowledge and Cicero said that beauty refers to moral goodness5. Also,
beauty refers to something gracious, sublime, wonderful, etc. The relationship
between beauty and art started in the old ages, because artists, musicians, poets
narrated in a beautiful way the events of life or their own imaginary ideas6.
On the other hand, Plotin identified ugliness with the material world, while
Plato said that ugliness lacks harmony because it is in contrast with the kindness
of the soul. Nevertheless, ugliness was part of literary and artistic works in
1 See details, Kathryn Simpson, Viennese art, ugliness, and the Vienna school of art history: the
vicissitudes of theory and practice, in Journal of Art Historiography Issue 3 December 2010, p. 1-5, the
article is available at the following internet page: http://arthistoriography.files.wordpress.com/
2011/02/media_183175_en.pdf; Also, information and black and white photos with Gustave
Klimt's faculty paintings are available at the following internet page: http://en.wikipedia.org/
wiki/Klimt_University_of_Vienna_Ceiling_Paintings.
2 See, Stephen Bayley, Ugly:The Aesthetic of Everything, Goodman Fiell, London, 2012, p. 13.
3 See, Heath Spong, Individualiy and freedom: from aesthetic individualism to to a modern approach,
in New York University Journal of Law & Liberty, vol. 6, no. 1/2011, p. 11–12; http://www.law.
nyu.edu/sites/default/files/ECM_PRO_069127.pdf
4 See, Jonathan Metcalf, Della Thompson, Oxford English Dictionary, Oxford University Press,
2003, p. 77, 900.
5 See, Steve Cahn, Aaron Meskin, Aesthetics: A comprehensive anthology, Blackwell Publishing,
2008, p. 4.
6 See details,Umberto Ecco, Istoria frumuseii, Rao Publishing house, Bucureşti, 2012, p. 9–12.
50 NICOLETA RODICA DOMINTE
ancient Greece, because it played an important part in the harmony of the
universe. The adjective ugly is synonymous with repugnant, hideous, dirty,
monstrous, indecent, obscene etc. Therefore, ugliness awakes a reaction of
disgust, repulsion or fear7. Within this context, ugliness was described in literary
and artistic works as recognition of the high qualities of ideal beauty. How can
people appreciate beauty, if they do not know the features of its antonym?
Beauty in things exists merely in the mind which contemplates them”, said David
Hume. Is it possible for the author of a literary, artistic and scientific work to
obtain juridical protection irrespective of the aesthetic value of his/her creation?
Is the aesthetic value of an intellectual creation an essential criterion to obtaining
copyright?
Theodor Lipps, a German philosopher contemporary with Gustave Klimt,
said that “aesthetics is the science of beauty and ugliness, implicitly.” The concept of
ugly aesthetic becomes relevant within the framework of the above mentioned
questions. The expression ugly aesthetic is an art paradox which turns into an
argumentative subject for copyright protection. It was said that “Art enables the
existence of ugliness only in combination with beauty;...”, but ugliness in art possesses
a subsidiary origin because it cannot stand on the same level with beauty8. From
a chronological point of view, ugliness goes back in time, reaching the works of
art of the Middle Age, when the ideal beauty as conceived by the Greek artists
started to fade9 .
On the other hand, “A sculpture be it beautiful or ugly created by a famous artist
or a lesser known amateur artist falls within the category of sculptural work10. This
sentence reveals that an ugly sculpture could be a work of art protected by
copyright law.
Immanuel Kant mentioned that “aesthetic judgement is free from concepts” and
that aesthetic standards have nothing to do with morality, utility or pleasure11.
These philosophical judgements bolster up the idea that beauty and ugliness
should not influence copyright protection.
On the 20th August, 1857 a French court decided that six poems from the
volume “Les Fleurs de mal” by Charles Baudelaire, published in June 1857, will be
eliminated on moral grounds. The volume was a success and the first edition
7 See details, Umberto Ecco, Istoria urâtului, Rao Publishing house, Bucureşti, 2008, pp. 16 -31.
8 Karl Rosenkranz, O estetic a urâtului, Meridian Publishing house, Sibiu, 1984, p. 61, 62-63.
9 Karl Rosenkranz, O estetic a urâtului, Meridian Publishing house, Sibiu, 1984, Preface by
Victor Ernest Maşek, p.11.
10 Yves Moreau, Preservation and conservation of expressions of folklore: the experience of North
America, UNESCO-WIPO World Forum on the protection of folklore, Phuket, Thailand, April 8 to
10,1997, p. 8, http://www.wipo.int/mdocsarchives/UNESCO_OMPI_FOLK_PKT_97/UNESCO_
OMPI_FOLK_PKT_97_11_E.pdf
11 Encyclopædia Britannica, http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/7484/aesthetics/
11709/Taste-criticism-and-judgment#ref306457 and http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/
topic/7474/Aestheticism
Copyright and design protection for ugly things … 51
sold out. The third edition of the volume “Les Fleurs de mal” was published in
December, 1868 without the six poems censored by the French court. The six
‘doomed’ poems were “The Jewels”, “Lethe”, “To she who is to gay”, “Lesbos”,
Women Doomed (In the pale glimmer...)” and “The Vampire Methamorphoses”. It was
only in 1949 when the ban for their publication was lifted. Thus, six poems
signed by Baudelaire could not be published in France, for almost a century,
because they were framed as “an insult to public decency12. Indecent is a synonym
for imoral and vulgar. Umberto Ecco said that ugly is synonym with indecent in
art13, which allows us to say that Baudelaire's poems were banned for having
been judged to be ugly.
This French court decision from the XIXth century contradicts Kant's
philosophical judgements and indicates that the aesthetic value of a poem is a
criterion for legal protection. With this perspective in mind, we would like to
inquire into present legislation and jurisprudence to find out if adjectives as
beauty and ugly can become criteria for copyright protection.
The cases presented are from past centuries, but the questions may be
defended with an enquiry argument. Considering the legislation from the XXI
century, is it possible to revive such decisions based on the perception of ugly
elements from a literary, artistic or scientific work? We are asking this question,
because nowadays Polish artists are encouraged to use “ugly graphic forms14 and
a British writer and journalist inquires “Why contemporary art worships
ugliness?15.
2. Should copyright protect ugly literary, artistic and scientific works?
In this article, copyright protection for ugly things will be presented as
comparative analysis of Romanian copyright legislation, Berne Convention from
1886 and European Union directives with respect to the criteria of protection.
The juridical research begins with Law no. 8/1996, which legislates copyright
and related rights protection in Romania16. The object of copyright protection is
12 See, Viorel Roş, Dragoş Bogdan, Octavia Spineanu-Matei, Dreptul de autor şi drepturile conexe,
C.H. Beck Publishing house, Bucureşti, 2005, p. 91; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Les_Fleurs_du_mal;
For information and text of the six illegal poems of Charles Baudelaire: http://fleursdumal.org/1857-
table-of-contents
13 Umberto Ecco, Istoria urâtului, Rao Publishing house, Bucureşti, 2008, p. 16.
14 See, Lidia Paków, Noviki culture, September 2013; the text of this article can be read at the
following internet page:http://culture.pl/en/artist/noviki
15 See, Harry Mount, Why contemporary art worships ugliness?,The Telegraph, October 12th, 2012;
the text of this article can be read at the following internet page: http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/
culture/harrymount/100066835/why-modern-art-worships-ugliness/
16 Law no. 8/1996 on Copyright and Related Rights that includes the subsequent amendments
provided by Law no. 285/2004 on the modification and completion of Law no. 8/1996 (the Official
Gazette of Romania no. 587/30.06.2004), GEO no. 123/2005 on the modification and completion of
Law no. 8/1996 (the Official Gazette of Romania no. 843/19.09.2005), Law no. 329/2006 (the
Official Gazette of Romania no. 657/31.07.2006), Law no. 202/2010 (the Official Gazette of Romania
52 NICOLETA RODICA DOMINTE
written in Article 7 of Law no. 8/1996, which mentions that “the subject matter of
copyright shall be original works of intellectual creation in the literary, artistic, or
scientific field, regardless of their manner of creation, specific form or mode of expression
and independently of their merit and purpose, such as [...]”. Also, Article 1 (2)
stipulates that “A work of intellectual creation shall be acknowledged and protected,
independently of its disclosure to the public, simply by virtue of its creation, even though
in an unfinished form.” Nevertheless, the legislator enacts clearly that originality is
the only criterion for copyright protection.
On the other hand, Romanian doctrine17 acknowledges that are three
conditions for copyright protection:
- originality;
- intellectual act of creation;
- a form that allows communication to the public.
Originality implies intellectual creation, because it means the transposition of
author personality in a literary, artistic or scientific work within an act of
intellectual creation. In this way, we would like to point out that originality and
intellectual act of creation form part of the same condition.
A literary, artistic and scientific work will be protected if it can be expressed
in a form that allows communication to the public. This condition was
acquainted by Romanian doctrine, because the economic rights are recognized
when the work is communicated to the public. Article 1 (2) of Law no. 8/1996
will apply to moral rights, which are recognized even if the work was not
disclosed to the public. We consider that this condition is equally fulfilled both
by beautiful or ugly artistic creations.
Article 2 (1) of the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and
Artistic Works from 1886 stipulates that „The expression “literary and artistic works”
shall include every production in the literary, scientific and artistic domain, whatever
may be the mode or form of its expression, such as [...] works of drawing, painting,
architecture, sculpture, engraving and lithography; photographic works [...]„.
Additionally, Article 2 (6) mentions that „The works mentioned in this Article shall
enjoy protection in all countries of the Union.[...]”.
We cannot find the word “original” or “originality” in the text mentioned
above. The interpretation of this article lies in the fact that, in the text of the Berne
Convention, the concept of “literary and artistic works” is associated with the word
author”. In this case, only the works that are intellectual creations will have legal
no. 714/26.10.2010), Law no. 71/2011(the Official Gazette of Romania no. 409/10.06.2011) and GEO
no. 71/2011(the Official Gazette of Romania no. 637/6.09.2011); the text of Law no. 8/1996 may be
read at the following internet page:http://www.orda.ro/default.aspx?pagina=650
17 See details, Yolanda Eminescu, Tratat de proprietate intelectual, volumul I, Academiei
Publishing house, 1982, Bucureşti, p. 72; Ioan Macovei, Tratat de dreptul proprietatii intelectuale,
C.H. Beck Publishing house, 2010, pp. 431-432; Viorel Roş, Dragoş Bogdan, Octavia Spineanu-Matei,
Dreptul de autor şi drepturile conexe, C.H. Beck Publishing house, Bucureşti, 2005, pp. 81-93.
Copyright and design protection for ugly things … 53
protection. But originality implies an act of intellectual creation, which means
that the Berne Convention from 1886 legislates originality as a criterion for
copyright18. Additionally, the expression “intellectual creations” is mentioned in
Article 2 (5) of Berne Convention, which refers to derived works. A fortiori,
literary and artistic works enumerated in Article 2 (1) of the Berne Convention
should constitute intellectual creations, namely original works.
In accordance with Article 2 (7) of Berne Convention from 1886 “...it shall be a
matter for legislation in the countries of the Union to determine... the conditions under
which such works, designs and models shall be protected. ...”.
The Romanian Law on Copyright and Related Rights stipulates that
copyright protection is awarded to original works from Article 7 and derived
works from Article 8. The works enumeration from these two articles is not
restrictive.
Originality is a criterion for the works enumerated in Article 7. Originality
may be influenced by the formulation of author's ideas. Hereby, a technical idea
will ensue a low level of originality19. A fortiori, a beautiful or ugly idea may be
expressed in an original form, provided it is not technical.
A translation is protected by copyright as a derived work, if it is an original
one. Originality may derive from a combination of certain words chosen by the
translator that will express in an accurate manner all the ideas and feelings from
the original work. The quality or value of the translation is not considered to be a
condition for copyright protection under the Romanian law20.
Originality represents an essential condition for the copyright protection. The
adjective „original” is an attribute of intellectual creations, featured by genuine
and unique value. The author is original in his act of creation when he creates
something new and personal without using a previous work21.
On the other hand, originality is a criterion that has been legitimated by the
Berne Convention since 1886. The semantic interpretation of this notion falls
under the entire responsibility of the national doctrine of the member states22. For
example, the originality of a work represents the reflection of author personality
18 See, Mihály Ficsor, Guide to the Copyright and Related Rights Treaties administered by WIPO and
Glossary of Copyright and Related Rights terms, published by WIPO, Geneva, 2003, p. 23.
19 Înalta Curte de Casaie şi Justiie, Secia civil si de proprietate intelectuala, decizia nr. 8 din
11 ianuarie 2011, the text of this case may be read at the following internet page:
http://www.scj.ro/SC%20rezumate%202011/SC%20dec%20r%208%202011.htm
20 Înalta Curte de Casaie şi Justiie, Secia civil si de proprietate intelectuala, decizia nr. 963
din 2 februarie 2007, the text of this case may be read at the following internet page:
http://www.scj.ro/SC%20rezumate%202007/SC%20r%20963%202007.htm
21 See, Ion Coteanu, Luiza Seche, Mircea Seche şi alii, Dicionarul explicativ al limbii române,
Univers Enciclopedic Publishing house, Bucureşti, 1998, p. 728.
22 Sam Ricketson, Threshold requierements for copyright protection, in The WIPO Journal
no.1/2009, p. 56.
54 NICOLETA RODICA DOMINTE
and creative talent23. It appears that originality is a neutral concept, even if critics
and public could frame the print of author personality in a literary, artistic and
scientific work as beautiful or ugly, without the abridgement of the originality. In
that direction, the adjective beauty or ugly do not have the goal to baulk copyright
protection.
Are originality and aesthetic value connected? Under the Romanian law,
original works can be protected „independently of their value and purpose” in
accordance with Article 7 of Law no. 8/1996 on Copyright and Related Rights.
Though, the neutrality of the law confers protection to literary, artistic and
scientific works independently of the aesthetic value criterion. Nevertheless, we
would like to find out if an ugly work might fulfil criteria for copyright protection.
We consider that beautiful or ugly artistic value is not a criterion for
copyright protection. It is obvious that the law does not operate a clear
distinguish, since words such as „beauty” and „ugly” could not be found in the
above mentioned texts. Furthermore, the legislator does not refer to the artistic
value of the work, which means that ugly literary, artistic and scientific works
are protected by copyright if all the other criteria are fulfilled. As a literary
argument, art must represent ugliness because reality should be depicted in all
its elements, tragic or comic24.
Nevertheless, “The law does not judge literary, artistic and scientific works;...25,
which means that works will not be framed in two different categories. The talent
of the author could be revealed within the framework of the aesthetics of beauty
and ugliness under the law of copyright protection.
The act of intellectual creation is expressed through a beauty or an ugly work
of art. Waldemar Januszczak said that „beauty today can be electronic or scientific;
subtle and elusive. It can be found in the LCD sculptures of Tatsuo Miyajima or in the
subtle light installations of James Turrell. Carl Andre discovers a stern modern beauty in
squares of industrial materials dropped around a good yard.[...]26. Critics, reviewers
and public will appreciate the relativity of beauty and ugliness, but the law does
not discriminate regarding these two words.
With a comparative perspective in mind, we would like to refer to Article
L.112-1 of the French Intellectual Property Code which mentions that „Les
dispositions du présent code protegènt les droits des auteurs sur toutes les œuvre de
l'esprit, quels qu'en soient le genre, la forme d'expression, le mérit ou la destination.
The act of intellectual creation is enacted by law and originality is introduced by
the doctrine.
23 See, P. Sirinelli, S. Durrande, A. Latreille, J. Daleau, Code de la Propriété Intellectuelle
Commenté, 8e edition, Dalloz, Paris, 2008, p.
24 See, Karl Rosenkranz, O estetic a urâtului, Meridian Publishing house, Sibiu, 1984, p. 62 – 63.
25 Viorel Roş, Dragoş Bogdan, Octavia Spineanu-Matei, Dreptul de autor şi drepturile conexe,
C.H. Beck Publishing house, Bucureşti, 2005, p. 90.
26 http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00p4g60.
Copyright and design protection for ugly things … 55
French jurisprudence has interpreted originality as the mark of author’s
personality and intelligence. As a conclusion, juridical literature acknowledges
that originality is the opposite of ordinary27. Nevertheless, „ordinary is not
synonymous with „ugly, though it is possible to find originality in works that
can be enclosed in the ugly aesthetic matrix.
Also, the Appeal Court from Paris has established the meaning of perfume
originality. It is original a combination of oils in certain amount which flavours
reveals the creative contribution of the author28. The Court did not mention if the
perfume has to smell good or bad in order to be original.
Under the English law, originality is a criterion required for copyright
protection. In the beginning of the XXth century, the English Courts applied the
sweat of the brow doctrine that did not take into consideration the aesthetic value
of the work. The sweat of the brow doctrine refers to the skill and labour of the
author in creating a work of art. Originality became an important criterion for
copyright under the British law for Copyright, Design and Patents Act from 1988.
Under this law the word “original” becomes an adjective in the description of
works from Article 1. Though, the end of the XXth century marked an essential
change in the United Kingdom copyright protection. Originality is a new
criterion that did not replace entirely the skill and labour test29.
Within this context, originality is not the only criteria for copyright
protection on the European continent. In an attempt to harmonize the European
national law, the project of European Copyright Code was drafted by the Wittem
group established in 2002.30. In Article 1 (1) it is written that „Copyright subsists in
a work, that is to say, any expression within the field of literature, art or science in so far
as it constitutes its author’s own intellectual creation.” From the interpretation of this
article, the object of copyright is represented by any form of creation in the
literary, artistic and scientific field, which belongs to a natural person. The main
request refers to the creation act of the author.
The European Union directives on copyright were adopted with the aim of
harmonizing the European national legislation. The criteria requested for legal
protection were one of the objects in the process of harmonization. In the
27 For futher detailes, Michel Vivant, Jean-Michel Bruguière, Droit d'auteur, Dalloz Publishing
house, Paris, 2009, pp. 165 - 169.
28 Dr E. Derclaye, One on the nose for Bellure: French appellate court confirms that perfumes are
copyright protected, in Journal of Intellectual Property Law & Practice, 2006, Vol. 1, No. 6, p. 378.
29 See details, Jonathan Griffiths, Dematerialiszation. Pragmatism and the European Copyright
Revolution, in Oxford Journal of Legal Studies, vol. 33, no. 4 (2013), p. 770 – 786; Steven M. James,
Ruth Arkley, European jurisprudence and its impact on copyright protection, the article may be read at
the following internet page: http://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=ecaa7aea-971c-4b54-
b500-eccb75b20a43; Tina Hart, Linda Fazzani & Simon Clark, Intellectual Property Law, Palgrave
Macmillan, Great Britain, 2006, p. 167-172.
30 The text can be studied at the following internet page: http://www.copyrightcode.eu/
Wittem_European_copyright_code_21%20april%202010.pdf
56 NICOLETA RODICA DOMINTE
subsequent analysis, the European Union text law and jurisprudence confirm
that originality is the only criterion for copyright protection.
Article 1 (3) from Directive 2009/24/EC on the legal protection of computer
programs stipulates that “A computer program shall be protected if it is original in the
sense that it is the author's own intellectual creation. No other criteria shall be applied to
determine its eligibility for protection”. We would like to emphasize that European
Union legislator is precise in enacting originality as the only condition for
copyright protection.
In the light of this article, the European Court of Justice confirmed through a
number of recent cases that originality is the only criterion for copyright.
Originality is achieved when a literary, artistic or scientific work is the result of
the author's intellectual creation. Also, originality is applied for computer
programs and database. How may originality be accomplished? The European
Court of Justice gave a straight answer to this question. An author may obtain
originality “...through the choice, sequence and combination of those words […] in an
original manner and achieve a result which is an intellectual creation31.
Furthermore, in paragraph (8) from the introductory part of Directive
2009/24/EC, it is written that no tests for qualitative or aesthetic merits of a
computer program should be applied. Thereby, originality is not influenced by
the qualitative or aesthetic merits, which may frame a computer as beautiful or
ugly.
Article 6 from Directive 2006/116/EC on the term of protection of copyright
and certain related rights mentions that photographs are protected if they “are
original in the sense that they are the author's own intellectual creation [...]. No other
criteria shall be applied to determine their eligibility for protection. [...]”. This text law is
identical with Article 6 from Directive 93/98/EEC on harmonizing the term of
protection of copyright and certain related rights. Actually, Directive
2006/116/EC entered into force, when Directive 93/98/EEC was repealed.
If “the expression of those components is dictated by their technical function, the
criterion of originality is not met32. In the above sentence, we are referring to the
components of a graphic user interface. We underline the fact that the European
Court of Justice did not take into consideration the beautiful or ugly elements of
a graphic user interface.
Under the rules of the Berne Convention from 1886, a photographic work is
original if it is an intellectual creation of the author reflecting his/her personality
without taking into consideration other criteria, such as value or destination of
31 Case C-5/08, Infopaq International A/S v Danske Dagblades Forening, paragraph 45,
http://curia.europa.eu/juris/document/document.jsf?text=&docid=72482&pageIndex=0&doclan
g=EN&mode=lst&dir=&occ=first&part=1&cid=7928167.
32 Case C-393/09, Bezpenostní softwarová asociace – Svaz softwarové ochrany v Ministerstvo
kultury, paragraph 49, http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=CELEX:62009C
J0393:EN:HTML
Copyright and design protection for ugly things … 57
the work33. This argument is mentioned in a decision of the European Court of
Justice, known as Case C-145/10 Painer, and was taken over from paragraph 1734
from the introductory part of Directive 93/98/EEC. In this case, judges decided
that a photograph will be copyright protected only if it is the intellectual creation
of an author and if it reflects his/her personality through free and creative
choices in the act of photography35. As one can notice, judges ascertained “free
and creative choices” without referring to beautiful or ugly elements. A fortiori,
judges used the words “free...choices” which means that the act of creation is not
limited to the value of artworks components. Thus, an artist may create
something original, be it beautiful or ugly. The value of the creation is not a
criterion of protection.
As a conclusion, a work has to be the result of a creative activity. The
quintessence of this condition is represented by the originality of the work36, but
the legislator does not restrict copyright protection by reference to beauty or ugly
things.
Also, Article 1 (1) from Directive 2001/84/EC on the resale right for the
benefit of the author of an original work of art stipulates that “Member States shall
provide, for the benefit of the author of an original work of art, a resale right, [...]”. In
Article 2 (1) of Directive 2001/84/EC, one may read the definition of an original
work of art. In view of this article an “original work of art means works of graphic or
plastic art such as pictures, collage, paintings, drawings,[...] made by the artist himself or
are copies considered to be original works of art.” It is obvious that the aesthetic value
of the work is not a condition for the resale right of the author under the
European Union directive.
On a different opinion, it is considered that copyright protection cannot be
conferred independently of artistic value and author’s accomplishment.
However, jurisprudence confirms that judges do take into consideration author's
contribution37. We think that „artistic creation value and author accomplishment
should reverberate into the originality of the work. Though, the first place should
be granted to artistic talent, which is reflected into literary, artistic and scientific
works.
In British legal studies, it was affirmed that aesthetic quality is important in
order to be a work of art. From this point of view, aesthetic value can not be
excluded from the copyright protection, even if a judge can not appreciate the
33 Case C-145/10, Eva-Maria Painer v Standard VerlagsGmbH&others, paragraph 15,
http://curia.europa.eu/juris/liste.jsf?language=en&num=C-145/10
34 The text from paragraph 17 of Directive 93/98/EEC is identical with paragraph 16 from
35 Case C-145/10, Eva-Maria Painer v Standard VerlagsGmbH&others,
36 For further details, Ioan Macovei, Tratat de dreptul proprietii intelectuale, C.H. Beck
Publishing house, Bucureşti, 2010, p. 432.
37 See, Yolanda Eminescu, Dreptul de autor, Lumina Lex Publishing house, 1997, p. 80-83.
58 NICOLETA RODICA DOMINTE
artistic value of a work. In the absence of aesthetic properties, a work can not be
qualified as an artistic work. In this theory, the arguments refer only to aesthetic
qualities without framing the artistic elements as beautiful or ugly38.
On our juridical research, we propose to discover TRIPS Agreement
standards for copyright protection. „In the area of copyright, the Berne Convention
and the TRIPS Agreement form the overall framework for multilateral protection39.
Art. 9 (1) of TRIPS Agreement mentions that „Members shall comply with Articles 1
through 21 of the Berne Convention (1971) and the Appendix thereto. [...]” We notice
that TRIPS Agreement incorporates the articles and copyright criteria protection
as stipulated by the Berne Convention of 1886.
Ugly literary, artistic and scientific works can be original and copyright
protection is the shield against infringement. We may not like ugly works, but
they are the result of intellectual creation. The law protects the act of intellectual
creation, not the beautiful or ugly characteristic of a literary, artistic and scientific
work. Originality is the result of an act of intellectual creation, which may be
frame as beauty or ugly. We would like to mention a few words from American
jurisprudence “[...] It may be more than doubted, for instance whether the etchings of
Goya or the paintings of Manet would have been sure of protection when seen for the first
time. At the other end, copyright would be denied to pictures which appealed to a public
less educated than the judge. Yet if they command the interest of any public, they have a
commercial value, it would be bold to say they have not an aesthetic and educational
value, and the taste of any public is not to be treated with contempt.[...]40. With this
view in mind, the law may not protect the perception of beautiful or ugly, which
is submitted to subjective variations. The law refers to the objective act of
intellectual creation that influences the originality of a literary, artistic and
scientific work.
3. Arguments for the design protection of ugly things
...if a chair is in a furniture store, it cannot be severable and cannot be protected
copyright-protected; if it is in a museum, and you cannot sit on it because the alarm
would ring, it is an work of Art and you could have copyright protection41.
The works of applied art mentioned in Article 2 (1) of Berne Convention and
Article 7 (g) of Law no. 8/1996 refer to designs when are protected by copyright.
38 See details, Justine Pila, Copyright and its categories of original works, Oxford Journal of Legal
Studies, vol. 30, no. 2 (2010), p. 240-242.
39 Interpretation paragraph 88 regarding the text of Article 9 from TRIPS Agreement,
http://www.wto.org/english/res_e/booksp_e/analytic_index_e/trips_01_e.htm#article9B
40 United State Supreme Court, Bleinstein v. Donaldson Lithographing Company, 188US 239
(1903), information about this case can be read at the following internet page:
http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/scripts/getcase.pl?navby=CASE&court=US&vol=188&page=239;
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bleistein_v._Donaldson_Lithographing_Company
41 See, Mario Franzosi, Design protection Italian style, in Journal of Intellectual Property Law &
Practice, 2006, Vol. 1, No. 9, p. 600.
Copyright and design protection for ugly things … 59
Article 17 from the Directive 98/71/EC on the legal protection of designs
mentions that “A design protected by a design right registered in or in respect of a
Member State in accordance with this Directive shall also be eligible for protection under
the law of copyright of that State as from the date on which the design was created or
fixed in any form. The extent to which, and the conditions under which, such a protection
is conferred, including the level of originality, shall be determined by each Member
State”.
In the light of Directive 98/71/EC, the European Court of Justice observed
the revival of copyright protection for designs, which have entered the public
domain, as a consequence of the fact that the protection resulting from
registration has ceased. It is essential to mention that a design will have
copyright protection if it may possess artistic value42. Nevertheless, the words
beautiful or ugly are not conditional adjectives for the artistic value of any
design.
Under the Romanian law, a design will have to fulfill the condition of
originality in order to be copyright protected. This allegation is based on Article 7
of Law no. 8/1996. Also, the Romanian High Court of Cassation and Justice
assert that a design will have copyright protection if it is original. Originality is
defined as the print of author personality regardless the value of the work43.
Again, the words beautiful or ugly are not conditional adjectives for the artistic
value of any design.
Therefore, we would like to reiterate the initial question -whether or not an
author of a particular registered design can obtain protection as a result of the act
of creation regardless of the aesthetic value of the work.
The juridical protection of a design is obtained through registration at
national, community or international level. The main conditions for registration
are novelty and individual character.
In accordance with article 6 (2) from Law no. 129/1992 on Protection of
Designs “A design shall be deemed to be new if no identical design was rendered
available to the public prior to the date of filing the application for registration or, if the
priority was claimed, before the priority date”. Novelty is analysed on the basis of an
objective criterion which does not imply questioning the aesthetic value of the
design.
In accordance with article 6 (4) from Law no. 129/1992 „A design shall be
deemed to have individual character if the overall impression it produces on the informed
user differs from the one produced on such a user by any design rendered available to the
42 See, Case C-168/09, Flos SpA v Semeraro Casa e Famiglia SpA, http://eur lex.europa.eu/
LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=CELEX:62009CJ0168:EN:HTML
43 Înalta Curte de Casaie şi Justiie, Secia I civil, decizia nr. 886 din 10 februarie 2012, the text
of this case may be read at the following internet page: http://www.scj.ro/SC%20rezumate%
202012/SC%20I%20dec%20r%20886%202012.htm
60 NICOLETA RODICA DOMINTE
public before the date of filing the application for registration, or before the priority date,
if the priority was claimed”. Should the informed user take into consideration the
beautiful or ugly nature of a design when he or she analyses the individual
character?
Article 6 (1) from Regulation no. 6/2002 on Community Designs „A design
shall be considered to have individual character if the overall impression it produces on
the informed user differs from the overall impression produced on such a user by any
design which has been made available to the public [...]”.
One may easily detect the identity of article 6 (4) from Law no. 129/1992 and
article 6 (1) from Regulation no. 6/2002. Also, we would like to mention that the
same text can be found in Article 5 (1) from Directive 98/71/EC44. The key words
from these articles are informed user and overall impression.
Individual character may be viewed as a subjective condition with the
informed user as a standard of appreciation. Impression is the subjective
conviction of a natural person. On the other hand, it appears that overall
impression is deployed of objective elements, since the informed user possesses
all the necessary knowledge about designs regarding a certain product from the
market45. Nevertheless, the European national jurisprudence give a different
interpretation of this concept in the direction that the informed user may be a
specialist in that field, a 5-year old child or someone who bought and used a
product for a certain period of time46.
The law refers only to a different overall impression independently of any
connection with beautiful or ugly elements of design. The informed user is not an
art critic who analyses the positive or negative aesthetic value of the design. The
informed user is described as a natural person acquainted with the designs from
a certain field, in absentia of an ordinary definition. His role is to give an expert
opinion regarding the resemblances and differences between two designs
without any concern for the aesthetic value.
It was asseverated that the informed user must analyse the resemblances
between inessential elements and differences between essential elements, under
the Community jurisprudence47. We estimate that essential elements may be ugly,
but original. The concept of originality does not prohibit the presence of ugly
elements in a literary, artistic or scientific work.
44 The text of Directive 98/71/EC can be read at the following internet page:
http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=CELEX:31998L0071:EN:HTML
45 See, Henning Hartwig, The concept of reciprocity in European design law, in Journal of
Intellectual Property Law & Practice, 2010, Vol. 5, No. 3, p. 188.
46 For detailes, David Stone, Some clarity, some confusion: 12 P&G Reckitt Benckiser decisions help
explain registered Community designs, in Journal of Intellectual Property Law & Practice, 2008, Vol. 3,
No. 6, pp. 380 - 381.
47 See, José J.Izquierdo Peris, Enforcement of Community Designs by Alicante Courts: a promising
start, in Journal of Intellectual Property Law & Practice, 2007, Vol. 2, No. 1, p. 46.
Copyright and design protection for ugly things … 61
On a different opinion48, ugly designs fail to stand for an individual
character, since they are too prosaic. In this view, copyright protection might
slow down the activity of creation and design by building walls and barriers
difficult to surpass.
From a semantic point of view, the word “prosaic” refers to things that lack
originality. Taking into consideration the juxtaposition between “ugliness” and
prosaic” explains the inappropriateness of such approach when it comes to
designs and models, for jurisprudence reveals that originality is an important
component of the novelty criterion that must be fulfilled for the registration of
designs49.
We consider that law does not distinguish between beautiful or ugly designs.
Novelty and individual character may be equally fulfilled by an ugly design, if
this design is the result of the author’s creative act.
4. Conclusions
A work of art is beautiful if it is pleasant for the eye and human mind. The
opposite of beauty is ugliness, something that is not liked by human senses. From
a semantic point of view, „art” is a word that designates human activity which
gave birth to pieces of work with aesthetic values, whereas ugliness is „... the
opposite of beauty which covers a part of aesthetics50.
Since we cannot ignore ugly works or designs, should we protect them? The
law does not give protection in accordance with the positive or negative artistic
message that can be developed. When a design is contrary to the public order, it
cannot be protected; nevertheless, not all ugly designs are contrary to the public
order.
The main conclusion is that law does not differentiate between beautiful and
ugly works and designs, which means that protection can be granted if validity
criteria are fulfilled.
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