3 min Reading time

Culture and cultural differences

That ‘Europe’ is plagued by cultural differences is something an European is confronted with daily. The differences may show themselves in very many ways: budget responsibility, role of the state, an individual’s responsibilities, individual’s liberties, etc. In my view they show themselves often in either a north / south divide or an east / west divide, although differences are also around within a few mile radius (think in The Netherlands about the (cultural) difference between someone from Friesland and someone from Limburg).

This is about another north / south cultural difference that has struck me more than once. Recently I learned that the Italian state and the Galleria dell’Accademia have been suing the German toy and puzzle maker Ravensburger for Ravensburger’s use of Da Vinci’s The Vitruvian Man for one of its puzzles (the case though stems from 2022). Ravensburger was ordered by the Venice court to cease the commercial use of Da Vinci’s drawing.

In October 2022 the news was that the Uffizi museum in Florence was suing Jean Paul Gaulthier over unauthorised reproduction of Botticelli’s Venus on fashion garments. The basis for the Uffizi’s and the Galleria’s claim being the Italian Cultural Heritage Code. The Italian state wishes to protect its purported cultural heritage, either to prevent certain usage of cultural heirlooms, or to earn some money out of it.

The French (from my PoV also to the south) have an identical approach to their cultural heritage. I recall the ad campaign for Kronenbourg’s 1664 beer with images of the Eifel tower and Chateau Chambord.

One might think ‘panorama right’, but no, the French state wishes a commercial company to pay for the image of a centuries old castle in an advertisement. Because Kronenbourg at the time won its case before the court of first instance and the appeal court, the French government introduced a law relative to the freedom of creation, architecture and heritage. You can’t just use without permission an architectural building that the government has declared a ‘domaine national’. And yes, permission may be subject to payment.

I live in The Netherlands, we have a rich cultural heritage, not like the Italians (we still lived in sod huts when they were having hot baths) nor like the French, but we do have Rembrandt.

However, we clearly do think differently on how to deal with our heritage. From the Rijksmuseum you can obtain for free high resolution JPEG’s of almost all art in the Rijksmuseum (over 125,000 objects!) to create whatever you wish to create. You will get – for free – a 4500×4500 pixel JPEG. But if you wish to use any art commercially, you may obtain  – FOR FREE – a high resolution Tiff file. All the Rijksmuseum asks for is a copy for its library and if possible the mention of the Rijksmuseum. Oh, and they give examples of what you could do with the art: design a scooter, paint your Volkswagen Up, create a t-shirt or a dress (all images from : Van shirt tot scooter … tips en voorbeelden – Rijksmuseum).

Picture of the Ravensburger puzzle taken from puzzlelink.net; model with Gaulthier garment: taken from www.highsnobiety.com, photo © Ssense; photo Kronenbourg 1664 from the website www.franceblue.fr; other pictures from the website of the Rijksmuseum

03 May 2024 - Intellectual property

About Roland Wigman

Roland Wigman advocaat

In the Netherlands, Roland is the lawyer with the most knowledge about film and all connected contracts (including those in corporate law) and funding.

He is thé expert in the field of film copy right law.

He uses this knowledge for the countless films he is involved with as a lawyer, for their production, release or for finalising funding details. Nationally and internationally.

He has a practical approach: coming from the practice of film-making, he knows how to distinguish main issues from details. Roland finds solutions for seemingly dead-end situations.

Roland taught at the PAO Utrecht and PAO Leiden and now teaches law at the Amsterdam University of the Arts (Netherlands Film Academy) and is a board member of the foundation Nature for Kids and chairman of the foundation Rutger Hauer Filmfactory.

More about Roland Wigman