This weekend the copyright law that ELLE Decoration fought to change has finally come into force. It is now illegal to make or sell knock-off design classics in the UK. Here’s everything you need to know about this overdue change in the law, and why it’s important
How has the law changed? The UK has increased automatic copyright protection for all designers to 70 years after the death of the originating author. Before now, the 70-year protection applied to works of art, literature, film and music, but not design – meaning that the UK furniture market was awash with copies of design classics such as the ‘Arco’ lamp and Eames ‘DSW’ chairs.
How did ELLE Decoration fight to change the law? It all started with a blog post by Editor-in-Chief Michelle Ogundehin, who was shocked to hear that Samantha Cameron reportedly owning a knock-off ‘Arco’ floor lamp: read the post here. Backed by the likes of Sir Terence Conran, Sir James Dyson and ACID (Anti Copying In Design), we took our petition to the government. The ELLE Decoration Equal Rights for Design campaigning began in May 2012 and by April 2013 Vince Cable’s Enterprise and Regulatory Bill, which included our proposed changes in Clause 56, had been passed. Victory tasted a little sour when we discovered that the law wasn’t due to be enforced until 2020, enabling an extremely lengthy transition period for the faux furniture folk to phase out their dodgy stock. But, after continued pressure, the government capitulated and the fakers now have just until the end of January 2017.
What does it mean for me? The change in legislation means that the UK, once a safe-haven for designer copies, has moved to protect its designers, which is a welcome change across the creative industries. As a consequence you’ll see fewer cheap knock-offs being pedalled at cut prices, and the true classics get the protection and recognition they deserve.
Check out Editor-in-Chief Michelle Ogundehin’s blog for the full archive of Equal Rights for Design posts