Italy Orders Getty Images To Wipe Out Michelangelo ‘Davids’ Or Be Fined Daily
By Mikelle Leow, 06 Feb 2024
Photo 40269624 © Lornet | Dreamstime.com
In a not-so-classic tale of David and Goliaths, Michelangelo’s famous sculpture has been swept up in an intellectual property spar between two giants. An Italian court has recently ordered Getty Images, the well-known stock image repository, to remove all images of David from the Italian version of its website, or face a hefty daily fine of €50,000 (US$53,760).
This ruling encompasses not just photographs of the original masterpiece but also images of its numerous replicas scattered across the globe, per Photo Archive News.
Getty Images found itself under the scrutiny of the Italian Ministry of Culture, which took issue with the company’s handling of the statue’s image. An initial request to pull the content was rebuffed, but upon appeal, the Tribunal of Florence sided with the Ministry, prompting a temporary content blackout on Getty’s Italian site.
Despite this, the royalty-free image bank defends its stance that its actions were within legal bounds. Accordingly, it still plans on distributing David-related imagery globally, but requires that each piece of content is tagged with “Michelangelo,” “David,” and “statue.” Failure to comply would result in a €50,000 fee that could be passed on to the uploader, DIY Photography reports.
However, on its website, Getty explains that it will have to refuse images or videos depicting the real David or even reproductions for commercial purposes, and that any related content “intended for editorial use will be subject to further review and restrictions from sales in Italy.”
“There are replicas of the statue in and around Florence as well as other cities in Italy, broader Europe, Asia, Australia, and North America. The Italian Ministry of Culture prohibits reproduction of the David in Italy, including any video or imagery of the David. As such, we cannot accept any content depicting the David or replicas of the David for commercial use,” Getty Images outlines.
The country has a history of rigorously guarding its rich heritage, especially with historical pieces like David. In 2014, the city of Florence took legal action against a firearms company for using an image of the Michelangelo work in an advertisement, arguing that it tarnished the statue’s image. Just last year, it took the side of the Galleria dell’Accademia, the owner of David, after a publishing house featured the masterpiece in an advertising initiative.
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