What are Artistic Works

Artistic Works


Section 51 of the Copyright Act defines “artistic works” to include, irrespective of artistic quality:


any of the following works or works similar thereto: paintings, drawings, etchings, lithographic, woodcuts, engravings, prints, maps, plans, and diagrams. Others are works of sculpture, photographs not comprised in a cinematograph film, works of architecture in the form of building models. Further, it includes works of artistic craftsmanship also (subject to subsection (3) of section 1 of this Act) pictorial woven tissues, articles of applied handicraft and industrial art.

Artistic Works

Under section 1(3), artistic work is not eligible for copyright, if, at the time when the work was made, it was intended by the author to be used as a pattern to be multiplied by any of the industrial processes. However, the Act provides no guidance on what would qualify as industrial multiplication. Nevertheless, it should be taken to mean no more than that it should “be possible to reproduce the design upon articles en mass”. It needs not always involve the use of a machine. In as much as the artistic work is not intended for industrial exploitation or to be industrially multiplied, it is protectable under copyright irrespective of whether it could be a proper subject of a registered design or not. Since the Act expressly defines artistic works to include “works” of architecture in the form of building models” such architectural models are not to be confused with other models or pattern intended for industrial application. In the case of Maurice Ukaoha vs. Broad-Based Mortgage Finance Limited & Anor in an infringement of an artistic work, the plaintiff led evidence to show that he constructed 17-story architectural model and lent it out to the defendants to display temporarily in their conference room, but, he saw the architectural model in a newspaper without permission. The defendants had claimed that the model was their proposed headquarters in Abuja. Jinadu J. held that copyright exists in the model work, which is an artistic work of art made and constructed by the plaintiff.



However, in the case of Merchandising Corporation of America Inc. vs. Harpbond, the issue for determination was the plaintiff’s claim for infringement of facial make-up. The plaintiff had devised a new look involving paint marks on his face and apart from wearing this look, he also had a sketch of his face made with the facial painting. The defendant had used the photographs of the plaintiff’s face with the paintings superimposed, thereby obtaining the new look of the plaintiff. The court held that make-up, such as this, could not possibly be painting for the purposes of the Copyright Act. The issue of “fixation” and “performance” was examined since the painting on the face could not be taken to be fixed and permanent. That is all about artistic works.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply