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Extraterritorial Application Of The Italian Cultural Heritage Code: The Court Of Venice Orders Ravensburger To Cease The Marketing Of Its Puzzles With The Image Of The Vitruvian Man – Copyright – Italy

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With an order issued on 17 November 2022 (available here), the Court of Venice, Second Chamber,
has enjoined Ravensburger AG, Ravensburger Verlag GmBH and
Ravensburger S.r.l. from using for commercial purposes the image of
the famous drawing of the Vitruvian Man, drawn by Leonardo da Vinci
in 1490, setting a penalty of EUR 1,500 for each day of delay by
Ravensburger in complying with the decision of the Court.

The order, which was issued on appeal following a previous
rejection on grounds of lack of competence, is based on the Italian
Cultural Heritage and Landscape Code (Legislative Decree no. 42 of
22 January 2004, hereinafter “Cultural Heritage Code”),
which under Article 106 et seq. provides i.a. that public
territorial bodies or cultural institutions may request concession
fees to allow the use and reproduction of cultural property they
have on consignment and in any event assess whether such uses are
compatible with the cultural purpose of such works of art.

According to Article 108, the concession fees may be calculated
i.a. based on the nature of the activities to which the concessions
of use refer, the means of reproduction, the use and purpose of the
reproductions, as well as the economic benefits to the
applicant.

The case was brought together with the Minister of Cultural
Heritage by the “Gallerie dell’Accademia“,
one of the main State museums in Venice, which has the Vitruvian
Man on display (although rarely available to the public for
preservation purposes).

As reported in the order, the Gallerie had informed Ravensburger
of the circumstances which led to the injunction already in 2019,
sending out a cease and desist letter and requesting that
Ravensburger pay the 10% royalty provided by the internal
regulation of the museum (adopted in accordance with the Cultural
Heritage Code) in order to use the image of the Vitruvian Man
drawing for its puzzles.

In deciding the case, the Court of Venice rejected various
objections raised by Ravensburger, including the objection that the
Cultural Heritage Code could only apply to the activities in Italy.
To the contrary, the decision notably extended application of the
Cultural Heritage Code also to the German counterparts of the
Ravensburger group, on grounds that Italian law would apply to the
entire matter, which reflects a unitary conduct by the defendants,
and that the conducts of the Ravensburger defendants abroad also
affect the image of the artwork which is located in Venice.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.

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