KVOA reports that an Arizona restaurant owner is embroiled in a copyright dispute with a sculptor after attempted to sell a ten-foot-tall, 24-foot-long plastic-foam sculpture of a snake located in his restaurant through eBay. The artist, Carl Jansen, claims that selling or removing the sculpture from the restaurant where it is located would infringe his copyright since it would destroy the context of the work. The restaurateur counters that the snake does fit in with the theme of his restaurant.

The IPKat notes that while the droit de suite (excellent summary here) recognises a right to percentage share of the revenue raised by some sales of artwork, no one has ever suggested that works cannot be removed from certain physical spaces. To do so would allow IPR holder to dictate the way in which real property can be used.
SNAKE ARTIST BITES BACK SNAKE ARTIST BITES BACK Reviewed by Unknown on Tuesday, September 20, 2005 Rating: 5


  1. I think the French have some case law on it being an infringement of the artist's moral right for a work of art to be removed from the place it was created for. Can any of the IPKat's French readers confirm if this is right?

  2. Funnily enough, I have just been looking at this. There are a number of destruction/ removal moral rights cases both in France and other civil law jurisdictions.

    Dubuffet v Regie Nationale Des Usines Renault (commissioning by Renault of a statue,work stopped, distruction proposed, court held work should be completed)

    Scrive v Rennes (dismantling of fountain in commercial centre, as no risk to public safety, artists moral rights were infringed by destruction)

    These cases (in the context of meaning of derogatory treatment in the UK) and a several others are discussed in Michalos, Law of Photography & Digital Images p.179.

  3. The Caslon Analytics note on droit de suit is of course concerned with resale royalties. Moral rights are a quite separate matter. In Australia there has been much debate about the status of sculpture that is an integral part of a building and about whethere the recent Moral Rights legislation restricts changes to architecture. (Ironically one of the incidents that has gained most attention is the proposal to radically rework the National Gallery of Australia). Discussion about the legislation featured criticism of incidents where sculpture and murals had been altered or stripped out of ensembles to the alleged detriment of the artist's reputation. The legislation accommodates removal/destruction of sculpture - and changes to buildings - on the basis that architecture is a special case


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