I’m still scratching my head over this one … according to Thomas Hawk, a French court has decided that a stock image that included a designer couch violated the intellectual property rights of the furniture’s manufacturer.
Getty, who was the defendant in the case, has posted an update to their contributor agreement. From their statement:
Designer furniture may be protected under unique copyright laws in certain European jurisdictions that stipulate the designer can control commercial use of photos featuring the furniture for as long as the design remains in copyright (generally until 70 years after the death of the designer). This applies as long as a piece of furniture is distinctive and original and even though the piece of furniture might be mass produced. This includes productions by other manufacturers that appear to be knock-offs of the original design.
Doesn’t pertain directly to photojournalism as this case was about commercial usage of images, but it’s something we should keep tabs on.