Mondrian, the Dutch pioneer of abstract art, died more than 70 years ago. And everyone who knows something about copyright will conclude that the copyrights on his art have expired. The result is that everyone can use the images of the artworks freely.
But not everywhere, according to the Mondrian Trust. Recently they shared their opinion in a Dutch newspaper: according to American copyright law all works after 1923 are protected not only 70 years but 95 years after the death of the creator. Consequently, a picture of a work of art of Mondrian which was made public after 1923 can be used outside America, but not in America and not on the internet, as internet can be consulted in America too.
A smart trick or rather an artificial extension of rights? The museum of The Hague, who is expert in the art of Mondrian, does not follow the opinion of the Mondrian Trust as Mondrian was a Dutch citizen, so US rules do not apply.
Fact is that trusts like these take all the instruments in hand to make sure that they can continue to monitor the issue (and income) of artworks. And further extensions of protection are, of course, very welcome. A different example is the position of the Anne Frank Foundation. In March 2015 Anne Frank is deceased more 70 years ago but the Foundation still claims the copyright on the diary as the diary has been edited by Otto Frank (the father of Anne Frank) and the diary became his art work.
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“Trademark protection gives freedom to do business.”