12
Jun/07

Backgrounds Move To The Foreground


manchester_cathedral_2.jpg
As Thomas Pynchon once wrote: Some people can’t see the a great work of architecture without thinking “chase scene.
Such people will be troubled by this BBC Report that the Church of England is planning legal action against Sony, for use of Manchester Cathedral as a background for a video game scene.
Info/Law runs down some U.S. case law on ‘incidental’ or ‘background use of places and things.
The Seattle Trademark Lawyer points to a brief discussion of the Australian take on the general issue of building protection, in the context of photographs of the Sydney Opera House.
Prof Patry wonders what the UK law would be here so I asked world-famous UK lawyer and foremost authority Jane Mutimear , who replies:
” . . . [P]eople who comment on news stories of this nature might find
it worthwhile checking when Manchester Cathedral was built, and remind
themselves as to how long copyright lasts. Even if they can’t remember
the difference lengths for the different types of copyright, they might
remember that the longest term is life plus 70, so it would be safe to
assume that architectual copyright didn’t last forever and then work out
how old the architect would have to have lived for copyright still to
subsist . . . (Unless they think that God is the architect and believe he is not dead)
It’s a passing off issue, if anything, obviously.”

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