According to a recent decision¹ issued by the State Court of Rio de Janeiro, the mere illustrative reproduction of an artwork located in public venues does not constitute infringement of intellectual property rights.
In this case, Mitra Arquiepiscopal of Rio de Janeiro, the entity responsible for the Catholic heritage of the city and for the commercial rights regarding the Christ the Redeemer statue, filed a lawsuit against a health plan operator that used the image of Christ the Redeemer in its advertising, based on copyright infringement. However, the Court held that “the Artwork in question is located at the top of Morro do Corcovado, a public place in which, in 1922, it was authorized to be built, with a panoramic view of the city of Rio de Janeiro, being one of the its main symbols, a feature that gives rise to an autonomy in relation to the one that owns the patrimonial rights, since that it has become a cultural, historical and landscape heritage of the City”.
Due to this rationale, as the health plan’s publicity did not exploit the statue, but rather the City of Rio de Janeiro itself, prior authorization from the owner would not be required, and such use would not constitute infringement. Therefore, the appeal was granted to reverse the lower court’s decision and fully deny all of plaintiff’s claims.
¹Lawsuit No. 0193869-32.2014.8.19.0001