Not Saussure

April 21, 2007

Nelson Mandela’s name and likeness coprighted?

Filed under: Law — notsaussure @ 4:13 pm

This can’t be right, can it? It might be courteous to ask for someone’s permission to use your drawing of them on a commercial product, but the drawing you’ve made is your copyright, not theirs. And certainly there’s no law to stop someone writing a book about somebody and putting a picture of him on the front without his permission.

Admiration for Nelson Madela has landed a Leamington artist in trouble with the South African foundation bearing the statesman’s name.
Carol Ballard, of Beauchamp Avenue has been ordered to stop creating pieces of art containing images of Mandela, as they are now protected by copyright.The 48-year-old had heard that the foundation’s Centre of Memory was collecting artwork depicting the former president and emailed six bookmarks she had designed, which had been exhibited at a booksellers in London.

But the mother-of -one, who lived in South Africa between 1972 and 1985, was astounded to be threatened with legal action as a result.
She said: “I had no idea I was breaching copyright protection around the use of Mr Mandela’s image so I was shocked when the foundation requested that I refrain from making art of Mandela or they will have no choice but to seek legal recourse. […]

Ms Ballard’s arts and crafts have been exhibited throughout the country but following the copyright legislation she has had to put an arts garden, inspired by Mandela, on hold, as well as a children’s book about the statesman.

She is now awaiting a response as to how she can create art containing Mandela’s image legally.

She said: “I have had to say that they will never be shown again but at the same time I feel this is not right. Especially the children’s book I was writing. I was doing it really well. I had started with the folk law and I have never seen a book like it. I was really prepared to have it published.

“I am remorseful that in my over-zealous enthusiasm and love for Mandela, I have caused such a reaction from an organisation so close to my heart.”

A spokesperson for the foundation confirmed that the image, work and name of Nelson Mandela was covered by copyright to prevent individuals from making profit from the former president’s name.

Under what law does the Nelson Mandela Foundation claim this strange copyright, I wonder?

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  1. I remember Frank Sinatra attempting to ban other Sinatras from identifying themselves by their own names and Richard Branson is always trying to sue girls who haven’t had sex. Where does this leave Harry Enfield and his Nelson Mandela Alcopops empire?

    Comment by Noosa Lee — April 21, 2007 @ 4:49 pm

  2. I know that it is against the privacy laws in the US to use someones name or image without their consent.

    I seem to recall a case in this country over Diana’s image but as she was already dead it didn’t wash.

    Comment by jailhouselawyer — April 21, 2007 @ 5:42 pm

  3. What? In the USA, George W Bush can forbid the use of his name and likeness in a political cartoon critical of his government or a book hostile to his administration, on the grounds it’s a breach of his copyright? Sounds a bit unlikely to me.

    Comment by notsaussure — April 21, 2007 @ 6:05 pm

  4. As you say, this can’t be right.

    Comment by jameshigham — April 22, 2007 @ 5:09 pm

  5. Sorry I’m late getting back to you, but I thought this thread had died.

    Comment by jailhouselawyer — April 22, 2007 @ 8:49 pm

  6. Just discovered a complete list of all marked down products at Amazon, sorted by category
    and % off, ranging from 50% off to 90% off (thanks Sonja for the effort).

    Actually I never thought Amazon would have articles with 90% off, but only in the category
    Electronics there are more than 3000 of them – look for yourself, the list is on
    or on
    (which is a blog of a woman who specializes in finding good deals at Amazon, like Britain’s “Jeanie”).

    Comment by Cooniempono — February 20, 2008 @ 4:07 pm

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