23 October 2011

Props in the Galaxy

"In 1976 a struggling art school graduate called Andrew Ainsworth was asked to give a visual dimension to the drawings and paintings of an artist … ".  So begins an interesting article by my partner Eddie Powell concerning the recent Supreme Court decision in Lucasfilm v Ainsworth [2011] UKSC 39. 

20 October 2011

Res Nullius?

When and where I studied law, the Roman Law course was compulsory.  In retrospect, all I got from it was a collection of Latin legal terms.  The use of legal Latin became politically incorrect in the 1990s, culminating in the Civil Procedure Rules, which even changed "writ" to "claim form".  Perhaps a new generation of lawyers brought up on Harry Potter will restore the balance, but I digress.

A res nullius in Roman Law was a thing that belonged to no one, and yet, I was taught, there was no such thing in English Law, except perhaps a corpse.  If an object's owner cannot be identified, it does not make the object ownerless, and therefore ownership cannot be acquired by the taking.  That can make some objects problematical, and one such object is on a plinth outside the Houses of Parliament.  I refer to Henry Moore's sculpture "Knife Edge Two Piece" which is the subject of an interesting article by Martin Bailey in The Art Newspaper.