JAMES CAMERON HAS been accused of breaching copyright law by using the image of a Picasso painting, Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, in Titanic 3D.
This is not the first time that Cameron has angered the Picasso estate. In the original 1997 Titanic movie, Cameron was refused permission to use the reproduced painting. However The New York Times reports that the director decided to use it anyway.
A copyright infringement was filed — and resolved — after the release of the original film in 1997. The re-release of the Titanic movie in 3D format and the inclusion of the image yet again has forced The Artists’ Rights Society to send a letter to the director claiming that he owes the Picasso estate compensation for the breach.
In the movie Kate Winslet holds up the painting and it is alluded to that she picked it up on her travels. At the end of the 1997 film the painting is seen sinking into the ocean.
The masterpiece was never lost to the North Atlantic and in fact was never even on the Titanic. Les Demoiselles d’Avignon has been at the Museum of Modern Art for years and the suggestion that it had sank to the bottom of the ocean did not please the Picasso estate.
Les Demoiselles d’Avignon by Picasso, is seen here on the left. Image: AP Photo/Murad Sezer.
The Artists’ Rights Society, a company that guards intellectual property rights for artists, complained that Cameron – who agreed to pay a fee for the right to use the image in the original movie – now owes further payment for featuring the painting in the new Titanic 3D.
The society asserts that the 3D version is a new work and not covered under the previous agreement.
Under copyright law the artist, or their heirs, retain control of the original image for 70 years after the artist’s death. Picasso died in 1973, therefore Picasso’s family continues to own the copyright until 2043.
The Art Newspaper reports that Theodore Feder, the chief executive and founder of the society, said that artists have a right to be consulted if their work is going to be used. He said he did welcome that the painting had been removed from the scene where it is seen sinking below the water. The painting has been replaced with a painting by Degas, which he said was already in the public domain.