Thursday, August 24, 2017

“Richard Prince’s working methods…apparently not an ‘aesthetic alteration’”

Images in question in the Graham v. Prince copyright infringement case.

Images in question in the Graham v. Prince copyright infringement case.

We noted last month that the copyright infringement suit against Richard Prince is moving forward.

Here’s an interesting article co-authored by copyright guru, Bob Clarida (and Robert Bernstein), on the strategic aspect of Prince asking the court to dismiss Donald Graham’s claim because Prince’s use Graham’s copyrighted photograph was outright fair use. The court declined to do so, and Clarida and Bernstein note the court’s 27-page opinion. [Note: article isn't free]

In part, they conclude with this: “But the appropriated nature of the Prince work—the “transformative context” it allegedly occupies by virtue of Prince’s working methods—is apparently not an ‘aesthetic alteration’ that the Graham court was willing to credit at all.”

Apparently, and certainly at this stage of litigation, a few words added to an appropriated image is not enough. This doesn’t bode well for those that argue that change of context–i.e., taking a photo from a magazine and putting it within the walls of an art museum–is, per se, fair use.


Gerhard Richter Painting Part of Major Lawsuit

The Richter [up for auction at Phillips last November] had been guaranteed for $24 million by 28-year-old Beijing businessman and art collector Zhang Chang. But Zhang has so far refused to pay.

Zhang’s refusal to make good on his guarantee has resulted in an increasingly tangled series of lawsuits. The dispute has also ensnared a significant piece by Francis Bacon, which Zhang acquired in a separate sale, using borrowed funds he never repaid.

Via Artsy.


The Status of Fair Use in the Jeff Koons Era

Jeff Koons, Fait d'Hiver (1988) Photo: Courtesy Christie's via artnet Price Database

Jeff Koons, Fait d’Hiver (1988)

Interesting article on the five lawsuits brought against Jeff Koons for his appropriation of copyrighted works. Depending on who you ask, the doctrine of fair use has either been clarified or muddled. One thing the ’80s could not have foreseen was the ubiquity of the internet, and how it facilitated access to images and content. Given this technological invention, it is becoming clear to courts of law, and ipso-facto, to artists, that “intent” plays a major role in deciding whether a use of a copyrighted work is “fair.”

The concept of “intent,” along with licensing, might be the two areas that define appropriation art today. As a side note, one thing we have noticed in the last ten years (during panels and lectures on copyright and appropriation) is how artists have radically shifted their views on appropriation. In the late 2000s, artists were about 90% in favor of appropriation regardless of need or intent. Today, that tide has turned to about 90% against appropriation without intent or permission.


Should Tattoos Get Different Copyright Protection?

That’s the essence of the dispute between a video game developer and the tattoo licensing company.

This is one to keep an eye on given the growing number of people getting ink on their bodies.


“It simply means the post office is doing a stupid thing.”


One would be hard-pressed to find anything good, functional or smart with the U.S. Postal Service. So, it is not surprising that a bright federal employee would commit this copyright snafu. Enjoy! And don’t forget that the sure settlement or damages will come out of our precious tax-payer money.


MoMA to Auction More Than 400 Photographs From Its Collection at Christie’s

The Museum of Modern Art’s photography department—the oldest of its kind in the US—plans to sell more than 400 works from its collection at Christie’s over the next nine months. The cache is expected to realize more than $3.6 million, and the proceeds will go toward the department’s acquisition fund.

The photographs are by some of the best-known names from the early 20th century to the postwar period, such as Alfred Stieglitz, Edward Steichen, Edward Weston, Man Ray, Henri Cartier-Bresson, and Walker Evans.

Shall we just file under, “Art as Asset”? And what will the Deaccessioning police have to say about this?


Countering Deep Opposition to Berkshire Museum’s Planned Sale of Art

Donn Zaretsky gives reasoned arguments against deep opposition to the Berkshire Museum’s plans to sell 40 works and use the proceeds for its endowment and to improve its building.


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