Aug 14, 2017

Roger in murky waters over copyright

The launch of former Pink Floyd bassist Roger Waters' new album, "Is this the life we really want?", has been interrupted in Italy after the album cover was found to constitute copyright infringement of the work of Italian artist Emilio Isgrò, whose works can be found here.

Isgrò's  work at the centre of the court decision, titled "Cancellatura", involved the erasure of all but a few words on a page, leaving a poignant message comprised of random words from throughout a text. Waters' new album cover adopts a similar style, giving the impression that the name of the album on the cover is formed of random words throughout a large text, the rest of which is blanked out. The words which are left visible in Isgrò and Waters' images are different.

An important point to note in respect of copyright is that it protects the expression of an idea, not an idea itself. An allegedly infringing work need not be identical to a work but it must be shown that it incorporates the whole or a substantial part of the work (which itself is the expression of an idea).In this case, Isgrò's expression is clear and distinctive by virtue of the way in which words are seemingly hastily and imperfectly erased on a page, leaving behind a few words only. The Italian court found Waters' album cover to be an unlawful copyright infringement, and issued and order preventing the sale of all-but the CD itself throughout Italy.

If you have any questions on the above, please do not hesitate to contact the team at McDaniel & Co. on 0191 281 4000 or

in: Case Law, Copyright, News

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