Fashion runways and right of panorama: a trendy combo!

The fashion month is over and – besides fringes and feathers – artistic monuments and museums have played a big role on the stage! From the Louvre Museum for Louis Vuitton, the Tour Eiffel for Yves Saint Lauren, the Palais de Justice for Givenchy and Le Palace Theatre for Gucci, fashion houses continue to choose iconic monuments of the relevant cities for their catwalks. We already talked here on the possible ways to protect fashion shows per se, but which rights on the monuments chosen for their set? 

Under Italian law, pictures of historic monuments, artistic and architectural works, buildings and, generally speaking, all works that have a cultural value are subject to a specific legal regime.

In fact, even when such works are no longer covered by copyright protection, the Italian Code on Cultural Heritage and Landscape (Legislative Decree No. 42/2004 – Codice dei beni culturali e del paesaggio) also applies.

More specifically, Articles 107 and 108 of such Law require those who want to use pictures reproducing goods that belong to Italian Cultural Heritage to seek authorization from the competent authority, which can either be the State or a local public entity. In any event, once the authorization is granted, a fee must be paid to the relevant authority. There is not a fixed fee to be paid, but it is determined by each authority depending on the kind of use to be made.

Exceptions to this rule are limited and could be included in the right to panorama that is “the freedom to photographically reproduce monuments, artistic and architectural works, buildings and any public space in general without infringing third parties copyrights on such goods“.

However, Article 108 mentioned above provides that no authorization and no fee are due for  the reproduction of such works a) by individuals in case of personal use or for study purposes; b) by private or public subjects for the purpose of enhancement, provided they are implemented without profit; or c) in the case of non-profit activities, study, research, manifestation of thought or creative expression and promotion of cultural heritage.

Therefore, with respect to the right of panorama, a distinction shall be made between the fashion house hosting the show and the guests and journalists posting pictures of the runway.

In fact, the exception applies only to the personal use of the latters, who are free to publish images of the models and of the historic monuments, artistic and architectural works used as the set of the show. Use of such works by the maison hosting the catwalk is, instead, made for commercial purpose and thus requires it to seek the authorization from the competent authority and pay the relevant fees. The same is true also for press campaigns, tv spot and any other commercial use made by the fashion brands using historic monuments, artistic and architectural works, buildings and, generally speaking, all works that have a cultural value.

Therefore, if you are already planning next fashion week and you are considering museums and artistic works for the location, do not forget to reach out the competent authority and pay the fee before doing it. Using artistic works for the runway is glamorous, but infringing the law is not!

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