Various European countries are considering whether catwalk models have Intellectual Properties Rights. Do they interpret a role? Are they interpreters in the sense of the Intellectual Property Laws?

Important Steps to Protect the «interpretation» of catwalk models. United Kingdom and France 

According to the IPKat, this is the EU position.

The British courts have already considered this question in 2016. The British arguments are that fashion shows can be a «dramatic interpretation» or a «representation of a work».

The French courts have also considered it in 2008 and 2013. The argument is that these courts have already recognised that a fashion show can be a «work», in the sense of intellectual property, as of 2008. If fashion shows are Intellectual Property, the models that participate can have rights as interpreters.

In all cases the definition of an interpreter is the basis of the argument, contained in the Rome Convention for the Protection of Artists, Interpreters or Performers (1961), and the WIPO Treaty of Interpretation and Performance (1996)

Article 3 of the Rome Convention defines «performer» as:

Every actor, singer, musician, ballerina or any other person that represents a role, song, recital, declaim, interpretation or performance in any form of literary or artistic work.

Article 2 of the WIPO Treaty for Interpretation and Performance that they are «artists, interpreters or performers»:

All actors, singers, musicians, ballerinas or other persons that represent a role, song, recital, declaim, interpret or perform literary, artistic, or folklore works.

From this definition, it can be deduced that those that partake in original fashion shows which would be considered «works» (in the sense of Intellectual Property), would be «interpreting» or «performing» a work protected as Intellectual Property. The models would be «interpreting» or «performing» a work protected as Intellectual Property, regarding their «performance» – authors’ moral rights and exploitation rights.

Therefore, the Rome Convention and OMPI Treaty would establish a minimum protection, for interpreters, such as those that have been previously defined, in the United Kingdom or France.

¿What happens in Spain?

The situation in Spain is similar.

According to the Spanish Intellectual Property Law, a person is an interpreter if they represent, recite, interpret or perform a work, in any form.

According to the Spanish Law, only the interpreter can authorise this establishment of their proceeding, reproduction, public communication or distribution.

Understanding that fashion shows are «works», in the sense of Spanish Intellectual Property Law. It is applied in Spain as well, the famous «Ashby» sentencing of the European Court of Human Rights.

In the sentence (10th January 2013) of Ashby Donald c. France, the ECHR recognised that a fashion show also can be a «work» protected as Intellectual Property. And the models can be considered «interpreters», in the sense of Article 105 of said law.

Intellectual Property Laws of the models, as interpreters «catwalk shows»

What laws would catwalk models have in Spain? Those recognised in the intellectual property for the interpreters.

Rights of Exploitation

The right of exploitation is the right to be paid, each time that they «interpret» the work, or it is reproduced, distributed or communicated.

How much should they charge? The Law speaks of a «fair payment».

Moral Rights

Additionally with regards to the right to charge, the interpreters (like those of the authors) have rights called «moral rights». These rights are irrevocable, not even in a contract.

Basically, the moral right is the right to be recognised as interpreters. That is to say, they should appear in the «credit titles» of the catwalk of models, but also in its shooting, in the posterior distribution or public communication of such filming.

Furthermore, the interpreters (as with any other authors) have the right to the «integrity of the work». They can oppose its deformation, modification and mutilation.

It opens, then, a path of protection, for the models, in their facets of «interpreters» of a «work» called creative model catwalks.

Santiago Nadal