4 August 2016Copyright

Pensioner who defaced crossword could own copyright, says lawyer

A German pensioner who is facing an investigation for writing on a piece of art depicting a crossword by filling out answers to the clues may own copyright in the new-look design, her lawyer has claimed.

Heinz-Harro Salloch filed a submission on behalf of the 90-year-old woman, in which he argued that she had increased the value of the piece and could own part of the copyright to it.

The 90-year-old woman, named only as Hannelore K, was accused of damaging property by Nuremberg’s Neues Museum, where the piece, which was lent to the museum by an art collector and originally created by Arthur Köpcke, is on display.

Köpcke’s work is translated as “Reading-Work-Piece”.

Salloch, in a seven-page rebuttal to the accusation from July, claimed the woman started filling in the clues because the exhibition had the phrases “insert words” and “so it suits” on it, so she believed she was completing it and there was no sign warning visitors not to touch it.

Her answers were written in biro and although they have since been removed, the woman is still under investigation for potential criminal damage.

Salloch added that the pensioner had increased the piece’s value by bringing the “relatively unknown” Köpcke work to the attention of the wider public and that her “invigorating re-working” of the exhibit further increased its worth.

Till Kreutzer, attorney at iRights Law, told WIPR it was “highly unlikely” that the woman would have a valid copyright claim.

“Completing a crossword puzzle is not a creative work in terms of copyright law. The artist’s collage is certainly a protected work, but it is hardly completing the puzzle in the work where the answers are preset by the 'creator' of the puzzle."

He added: “It seems to me a clear attempt to justify the lady's behaviour.”

Already registered?

Login to your account

To request a FREE 2-week trial subscription, please signup.
NOTE - this can take up to 48hrs to be approved.

Two Weeks Free Trial

For multi-user price options, or to check if your company has an existing subscription that we can add you to for FREE, please email Adrian Tapping at atapping@newtonmedia.co.uk

More on this story

12 August 2016   Germany-based collecting society and performing rights organisation GEMA has won a copyright dispute against online file hosting service Uploaded.net.