Published: Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Brazil's Catholic Church is suing Hollywood for using unauthorized images of Rio's famous giant Christ statue in its disaster movie blockbuster 2012, a lawyer involved in the case said on Wednesday.
Rio de Janeiro's archdiocese is demanding unspecified damages and interest from Columbia Pictures for showing the iconic landmark being destroyed in a worldwide apocalypse in a film that came out last year, the archdiocese's attorney, Claudine Dutra, said.
The archdiocese manages copyright issues related to the 40-meter (130-foot) high statue erected in 1931, which overlooks Rio with its arms outstretched.
Under Brazilian law, copyright resides in the author of a work until his death, and then is passed on to his heirs or estate or successor entity for another 70 years.
The Christ the Redeemer statue was created by Paul Landowski, a French artist of Polish descent, on commission from the Rio archdiocese and erected in 1931.
Landowski died in 1961, meaning the archdiocese holds copyright until 2032, when the sculpture becomes part of the public domain.
In practice, Dutra said, the archdiocese allows use of images of the statue "in 99% of cases."
But it turned down Columbia Pictures' request to show the statue being destroyed by a giant wave.
"The archdiocese refused the use of the religious symbol during pre-production of the movie, but Columbia Pictures did not respect the prohibition," she said.
Dutra added that "many faithful have said they are shocked and offended by the images of the destruction of this sanctuary that the archdiocese wanted to preserve.
"We want Columbia Pictures to publicly declare that it did not intend to cause offense."
Negotiations have been going on since December, a month after the film came out, to settle the lawsuit.
"We are at the start of negotiations and don't know the amount of damages we are looking at. That will depend on an expert's evaluation," Dutra said.
The statue is Brazil's most visited tourist monument, with 1.8 million visitors a year.
It is one of the best-known modern landmarks in the world, along with Paris's Eiffel Tower, Washington's White House and Sydney's Opera House.