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From art displays to art experience: what protection for art exhibitions and arts festivals?

Paola Magnani and Maria Lillà Montagnani

Keywords: copyright; concept; project; exhibition; museum; festival

This work considers the growing phenomenon of art exhibitions and arts festivals as new means to access culture, which, departing from the traditional contemplative experience, now entails the involvement of the public. Given the proliferation of the above-mentioned events – and their relevance from an economic point of view – the issue of their protectability under copyright law needs to be addressed. In order to do this, we first consider the creative, organizational activity that leads to the actual set up of exhibitions and festivals so as to identify the diverse phases and the respective outcomes of such planning activity. The outcome that is more likely to access copyright protection is the result of the advanced planning activity, that is, that project that comprises all the elements of the future exhibition or festival. Given the nature of ‘schemes’ that exhibitions and festivals reveal, we then draw a parallel with television formats, as the works that more fully evoke such projects and whose copyrightability is equally controversial. We conclude by assessing whether, in principle, copyright protection is available for art exhibition projects as well as for the projects that are at the core of the diverse kind of arts festivals currently employed to make art more accessible to the public.

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