Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Morrisseau Asserted His 'Moral Rights' In Copyright Law

Years before he died, Norval Morrisseau asserted his moral rights (guaranteed under the Berne Convention) by disclaiming authorship of numerous purported Morrisseaus in notarized affidavits over a two-year period from 2003 to 2005. Filed in Superior Court in Ontario, these documents are part of the public record.

Morrisseau's seven biological children have filed their own claim challenging the validity of their father's last will and testament. According to counsel for Morrisseau's children, "At issue in the lawsuit is control over the right to use Norval Morrisseau's name and images and to reproduce his unique and well known works, many of which are featured in Canada's most prestigious public galleries." KRG's lawyers at Fraser Milner Casgrain LLP (FMC) confirmed: "The Copyright Act does not appear to grant anyone copyright in an 'artistic legacy' and we're not aware of any case which suggests otherwise."

As it stands, copyright in Norval Morrisseau's independently created artworks remains with the Norval Morrisseau Estate. The exception are the few instances when the artist assigned his copyright in individual works (generally as a form of debt repayment to the assignees). Click image to enlarge.
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