Out-Law / Your Daily Need-To-Know

Dispute over database rights for Van Gogh web sites

Out-Law News | 29 May 2001 | 12:00 am |

David Brooks, a Van Gogh expert from Toronto with a web site containing digital reproductions of the artist’s works is suing a Dutch web site owner under European database rights, saying he has no rights to reproduce material from his site, according to a report by the International Herald Tribune.

Mr Brooks has run his site, VanGoghGallery.com, for five years and has received praise for his work from the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. He had permission to post the materials on his site, but the Museum recently alerted Mr Brooks to the activities of a rival web site, about-van-gogh-art.com, which is alleged to have reproduced the reproductions and texts from Mr. Brooks’ site without permission.

Mr Brooks is relying on European laws against database infringement to make his rival remove the images from his site. He also hopes to use these laws to protect his income from a planned CD-ROM of the paintings, sketches, watercolors and drawings.

Last year, the on-line recruitment company StepStone obtained a court order under the same EU copyright and database regulations to prevent a rival from providing hypertext links to StepStone's on-line job advertisements.