Hey, have you heard of Section 52 of the Copyright, Designs & Patents Act 1988, which forms part of the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013? You haven’t? Well why would you? We’re interested in pretty looking objects and not the intricacies of European law – despite current innie or outie discussions! But, dear reader, this may affect you.
In creative’s terms, as of 28th January 2017 the law will have changed so that unlicensed reproduction furniture can only be sold 70 years after the death of the designer, as opposed to the current 25 year status – which allows us bargain priced Egg chairs or knock-off Arco lamps! Do you know how much six ORIGINAL Eames DSW chairs would cost to decorate your kitchen/diner – over two grand, that’s what!
Reproduction furniture is a huge market and is in actual fact partly responsible for the iconic status of iconic chairs – for example, the Eames Lounge chair is familiar internationally, I remember becoming aware of it as the ‘Frasier’ chair featured in the TV series and thinking how much I wanted one of them – long before I took an active interest in interiors. It is one of the best selling replica chairs at under £1000 for a copy but in the region of £4500 for an original and essential it fulfills the Eames ethos of making good design accessible for all as it was Charles and Ray who expresssed their desire to “make the best for the most for the least”!
So what is the reason for the change in the law? The intention is to bring the copyright law in line with those of other arts due to pressure on the government from licencees and the estates of the dead designers. Essentially not a bad thing. However, in the pursuit of making our homes look better it will have a negative effect – especially for any interiors enthusiasts into mid-century or retro furnishings!
So is there a way around it? Yes there is. Furniture makers and current manufacturers will be able to create ‘inspired by’ furniture based on classics with contemporary twists. So all is not lost. Although it does seem that eventually a replica piece will become more valuable than it is now – so perhaps it’s worth investing? Or at the very least use it as an excuse to go shopping!!