Israel Court Rules Record Copyright Infringement

dorit gal imageIn one of Israel’s larger copyright payout rulings, the father and son team that operated a pair of art galleries were ordered to pay 600,000 Shekels compensation and a further 200,000 Shekels costs for displaying copies of the artwork of Dorit Gur under a different name.

The artwork was signed Urielle, and was sold the Olive Tree Gallery   instead of being sold under the artist’s name in the Art and Soul Gallery.

The Art and Soul Gallery and its managers added Urielle who made the copies as a third party, but claimed that the work was “Practical Art” and that the pictures were not protected by the Law as they were ideas taken from the world of Kabbalah and Judaism and were therefore in the public domain. The manager of the Olive Wood Gallery even counter-sued Dorit Gur claiming that she had directed Urielle, who was merely a producer of the work, and that this gave him copyright.

Judge Galpaz Mokdi noted that the plaintiff’s Statement of Case was supported by recorded conversations with the defendants, was consistent and trustworthy., and it is clear that she was fighting for her copyright protection as an artist. In contradistinction, the testimony of the father and son team of gallery owners was full of contradictions and she referred to it as ‘false testimony’, and father ruled that the testimony of other witnesses they’d brought were ordered and selective.

The judge was convinced that the son (the manager of the “Art and Soul Gallery” had sent Urielle photos of Gur’s work that had been sent to him to be sold, and had asked her to make the exact same works.

The judge determined that on a legal level these were original copyright works that were copyright protected due to the unique combination of image, colour, background, ideas and inspiration from the world of Judaism and Kabala.

Judge Galpaz Mokdi clarified that the father had brought no evidence that Gur had instructed Urielle, and that elsewhere he’d testified that “I do not give instructions to artists”. It is noted that there is no evidence whatsoever to support the defendant’s claim that Ms Gur had transferred copyright to the father.

After analyzing expert testimonies,  the judge was convinced that the artwork was simply copied. However, she rejected the third party responsibility of Urielle and found her not guilty of copying, since she was an innocent infringer, based on testimony from Urielle and her daughter that the artist had stated explicitly that he owned the rights and that there was nothing to stop the copying.

The Judge ruled 100,000 Shekels compensation for each of six images that were copied, taking into consideration that both the artist’s copyright and moral rights were infringed. Furthermore, the Judge ruled legal costs of 160,000 Shekels to Gur and a further 40,000 Shekels to Urielle.

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