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UK closes loophole on designer furniture rip-offs

Furniture designers in Denmark welcome the UK's move to extend copyright protection from 25 years to 70 years


Furniture enthusiasts will soon need to dig deep to get their hands on an Arne Jacobsen 'Egg' following changes to UK's copyright law (Photo: Fritz Hansen / Arne Jacobsen)

October 11, 2012
19:55

by PS


English law will soon be changed to make it illegal to copy furniture by a designer until 70 years after the designer has died.

The UK, Estonia and Rumania are the only countries in the EU to currently permit copied furniture after only 25 years following the death of the copyright holder.

The law has not come into force yet so it is still legal to buy copies of well-known Danish design classics such as Arne Jacobsen’s ‘Egg’ chair in the those EU countries. It is illegal to resell the copies once they are in Denmark, however.

Enormous savings can be made by buying copied furniture instead of the original. According to Berlingske newspaper, copies of Jacobsen's ‘Egg’ can be found for as little as 7,000 kroner, as opposed to the 40,000 kroner price tag for an original.

Keld Kørsager, the CEO of interior design company Møbel og Interiører, told DR News that he was pleased about the change to English law.

“Copying presents one of the furniture business's most difficult challenges,” Kørsager said. “Their only intention is to steal money from the industry.”

While private households can continue to purchase copied furniture until the UK law takes effect, public institutions have already discovered that they cannot exploit the loophole in the same way.

In the summer of 2011, Roskilde University was forced to remove 12 red leather copies of Le Corbusier furniture that were bought from an English website.

The Danish lawyer for the Le Corbusier brand demanded that the chairs be removed, as there was public assess to the university library where they were being kept.

According to the financial website This is Money, 6,000 companies could face closure in the UK following the law change.



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