Traders may not be able to sell own Verity statue merchandise
TRADERS in Ilfracombe say it's nonsense that they will have to buy official Verity merchandise direct from Damien Hirst, rather than being able to create their own.
Last week the Journal reported that North Devon Council had accepted the loan of the 20-metre bronze statue and approved a planning application to site it on Ilfracombe Pier.
As part of the arrangement the council has agreed that all intellectual ownership of the statue would remain with Hirst's company Science Ltd.
Amy Kerr, an intellectual property specialist with law firm Pardoes, said: "This means the look, feel and likeness of the statue all belong to Damien Hirst. Any models or photos taken for commercial purposes would infringe on his copyright."
£3 Off Instant Passport / ID Photos - Fully Guaranteed ServiceView details
Don't trust the photo booths? Get set for your Summer Holidays with J&A Cameras. We are offering £3 Off our Passport Office Approved Instore Passport Photo Service so come in and get it done properly!
Terms: Instant passport photos guaranteed to be correct with the passport office, or we will re-take them for free. No refunds will be given as an alternative. Valid until June 30th 2013.
Contact: 01271 447066
Valid until: Sunday, June 30 2013
Exemptions include using images or likenesses for research, private study, criticism, reviews and news reporting.
The specialist said: "There is also an exemption for incidental inclusion. For example, if someone were to take a general photo of Ilfracombe for commercial purposes in which the statue happened to feature, then that would be fine.
"However, it would depend entirely on the statue's prevalence in the picture."
Such an arrangement would prevent shopkeepers in Ilfracombe from creating souvenir items such as postcards featuring the statue or miniature Verity replicas.
It is understood Mr Hirst will have photos of the statue commissioned once it is erected and that these photos will be made available to North Devon Council for tourism marketing purposes.
Council spokesman Amy Bingham said: "As with any licensed item, businesses and individuals cannot create their own items, use imagery, logos and trademarks for profit-making purposes.
"If anyone does this, they will be in breach of the artist's copyright."
She said the council was working on the wider opportunities with local businesses.
She said: "Science Ltd is in the process of negotiating a licensed copyright deal with a merchandising agent and wholesale manufacturer. This will enable traders to purchase merchandise from them.
"A percentage of the money will then be donated to a local charity as Damien Hirst does not wish to financially benefit from the sale of merchandise."
Simon Fellows, owner of Fellows News on The Quay, said he thought the situation was "a bit weird".
He said: "If he is loaning the statue to the town there shouldn't be any conditions attached to it.
"I wasn't planning to make any postcards or souvenirs myself but I expect our suppliers were. This could have a big impact on them."
Tracey Langham, owner of Forestay on The Quay, thinks it is cheeky that traders will have to buy direct from Hirst.
She said: "What's the point of having it if we can't make money from it? It's supposed to benefit Ilfracombe but I'm not sure how much benefit it will be. I won't sell anything to do with Verity anyway. It will be such an overcrowded market."
Another Quay trader, who wished to remain anonymous, described Mr Hirst as a financial artist and said the copyright move was clever.
He said: "Verity is not about promoting Ilfracombe, it's about keeping Mr Hirst's profile up.
"I would like to sell Verity souvenirs in my shop I wouldn't buy them from him.
"I can't imagine he would be commissioning replicas to sell for £4.99. It will be high art. The whole thing's nonsense."
The Driftwood Gallery, next door to Mr Hirst's 11 The Quay restaurant, already sells some of Hirst's work.
Gallery consultant Sheila Shepherd said: "He sells everything, it's the way he works and he's a very good businessman.
"We haven't considered selling any Verity souvenirs but we will certainly continue selling his art.
"In fact, we are planning a big Damien Hirst exhibition to coincide with the statue being erected."
North Devon Council said it was not sure what merchandise was planned at this stage but said it would be developed to suit a range of budgets.