News —

Court of Appeal delivers judgment in precedent-setting relationship property case relating to copyright in artwork


February 22, 2024

Chambers member Clive Elliott KC together with co-counsel Sharon Chandra of Bankside Chambers and Jeremy Hunter, and Theodore Doucas, both of Zone Law acted for Ms Alalääkkölä (the appellant).

The Court of Appeal decided that the copyright in Ms Alalääkkölä’s artwork is property under the Property (Relationships) Act 1976 and in addition it is relationship property. However the Court also ruled that Ms Alalääkkölä alone was able to retain and control her copyright.

Importantly from Ms Alalääkkölä’s perspective, the Court found that:

[78] Here, it is our view that it is consistent with the overall policy objectives of the Copyright Act that Ms Alalääkkölä, as the author and creative force behind the Artworks, be able to continue to control the commercialisation of the Copyrights. It would be inappropriate and unfair to require her to transfer ownership of some of the Copyrights to Mr Palmer for a range of reasons, …….

The Court did however caution that while Ms Alalääkkölä was able to control her copyright, this was because of her unique connection to her paintings, being the artist, and that other authors, for example, those not creating works of fine art, may not be treated in the same way.

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