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To whom do the lights belong?

Written by Jessie Hamill-Stewart on 21 August 2017

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A conflict has erupted between actor Brad Pitt and French artist Odile Soudant over lights, designed and implemented by Soudant, which run through Brad Pitt’s Chateau Miraval in South of France. Pitt first hired Soudant to fit the lighting system in 2010, without either party signing a contract. She worked for three and a half years on the project and was given carte blanche. Soudant did sign a confidentiality contract, making her unable to openly discuss the ordeal.

The problems began when Soudant and her company were forced to pay an advance cost to complete the work, and pay contractors and the vendors out of her own pocket. This caused cash flow problems. However, when she contacted Pitt, asking him to provide funds for project completion, she received no response. This proved catastrophic for the company, which eventually went bankrupt.

In a contractual case, Pitt was forced by Paris Court of Appeals to pay Soudant for damages to her company’s image and reputation.

Soudant was abruptly asked to leave in 2014, leaving the lighting project to be completed by a former assistant. Unfortunately for Pitt, French copy right laws follow that the author of a work owns the copyright because their personality is imprinted on it, whether the work has been finished or not.

Pitt claims to be the author of the lights because they were under his direction and everyone else below him were mere workers. He is passionate about architecture and had a vision for everyone else to stick to. However, Soudant claims it is her work, and did not give away any of her intellectual property rights.

This copyright debate is important, because it is the person who has copyright over a work, who has the right to authorise its reproduction. The debate continues.


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