Friday, March 6, 2015

On Gifts of Art to Family and Friends

On January 1, 2015, the gift and estate tax exemption increased to $5.43 million per person and to $10.86 for a married couple.  Artists who hope to take advantage of the increased exemption face unique challenges when making gifts to family and friends of visual art they have created.

Via The National Law Review.


Art and Law In Dire Need of Relevancy

Slide image, The Legal Medium, Sergio Munoz Sarmiento (2015).

Slide image, The Legal Medium, Sergio Munoz Sarmiento (2015).

I’ve been meaning to jot down some thoughts on last weekend’s art and law conference at Yale Law School. This morning I read Colby Chamberlain’s remarks via Artforum, and I must say he is seriously on-point. The ramblings of lawyers (Hoffman), the aloof super-star panelists (Goldsmith and Balkin), and the branding of the conference are all quite true.

I must add though (and if you’re interested in art and law you should be paying attention here), that there is much, much more to art and law than copyright and fair use, and there are artists other than Richard Prince and Jeff Koons in need of legal and scholarly support (where were all the pro-appropriationists when Lauren Clay came around?).

Given that the gap between art and law is already wide enough and in need of some serious bridging, the real issue for us art and law folk to address is one of relevancy. What does it mean to be relevant? What topics are and are not relevant? What can we do, collectively, to address pressing and timely issues to not only further cultural production, but to humanize the practice and study of law?

Let me give you one example. The fact that artists and art critics always apologize for “not being lawyers” but the converse is rarely true (legal scholars always feel free to opine on art and art history, albeit usually with the household brands Duchamp, Pollock, and Warhol) says much about the amount of work yet to be done in this nascent field. And when lawyers and legal scholars (Hoffman and Balkin, respectively) drone on about inconsequential issues (strict scrutiny) or impart their knowledge in a patronizing and condescending manner, artists and art scholars are sure to turn a deaf ear–and who would blame them?  Balkin, a First Amendment scholar, delivered a pompous diatribe on rights of publicity that could not have come at a worst–or more irrelevant–moment. How out-to-lunch do you have to be, even up in New Haven, to not notice that we’re currently living in a world where media and artistic censorship and self-censorship are at an all-time high?

I’m working on a text piece that will elaborate a bit more on this. For now, let’s just end with this: this conference was good; the next one will be better. Stay tuned!


Why Art Is a Unique Asset Class

Twelve main reasons, according to Nouriel Roubini.


Beastie Boys Get Permanent Injunction Against Monster

Interesting outcome to a copyright/trademark case. You may remember that last year The Beastie Boys won a major copyright infringement case against Monster Energy drink. Last month, a New York district court granted The Beastie Boys’ request for a full injunction keeping Monster Energy drink not only from ever displaying or distributing the infringing video containing any Beastie Boys’ content, but also ordering Monster Energy drink to destroy all copies of said infringing video.

Here’s the court’s order, and in brief,

For the foregoing reasons, the Court grants the Beastie Boys’ motion for a permanent injunction, limited to the infringing version of Monster’s Ruckus video at issue in this litigation. Specifically, it is hereby ORDERED that:

(1) Monster and Monster’s employees, officers, successors, partners, agents, and assigns are permanently enjoined from reproducing, publicly displaying, distributing, performing, or promoting the version of Monster’s “Ruckus in the Rockies 2012″ video that included copyrighted musical compositions and sound recordings owned or controlled in whole or in part by the Beastie Boys or Brooklyn Dust music, and that contained text referring to the Beastie Boys and to one of the group’s members.

(2) By March 6, 2015, Monster shall remove the infringing video from all places where it has been stored and/or made available by Monster, shall destroy any and all copies of that video, and shall certify to such removal and destruction in a written undertaking filed with the Court. Counsel for Monster, however, are authorized to retain a copy of the video for purposes of representing Monster in this litigation and any appeal, and are at liberty to make use of the video for purposes of representing Monster’s legal interests.



UCSD’s Conceptual Public Artwork Destroyed

Michael Asher

A rare permanently installed art project by Michael Asher has been destroyed. San Diego 6 and Hyperallergic have more on this story. I’d like to add that although the obvious question here is whether this project gets restored and how, one added question we have is how the answer to this question would differ if Asher were still alive.

You see, when it concerned his art projects, Asher’s way of thinking was that the events that unfolded due to an art projects reception and/or controversy would become part of the artwork. Most artists or their estates would react by having the work restored. However, having studied with Michael at CalArts, I’m not so sure he would have agreed. This poses an interesting question as to whether Asher left instructions regarding his art projects and legacy should such an event occur to one of his few existing projects. If not, then we’re left with his foundation, meaning that it will ultimately be up to the board members of that foundation to decide what to do with the destroyed water fountain.

If you’d like to read a bit more on this project, art historian Kirsi Peltomäki has some good thoughts on Asher’s water fountain and it’s relationship to Duchamp’s fountain and the historical legacy of public sculpture. Check out her book on Asher, Situation Aesthetics: The Work of Michael Asher.

Lastly, and sadly(?), no moral rights or VARA claims here. Asher is dead. However, certainly the water fountain’s owner and any other person or entity having any rights over Asher’s water fountain may have civil claims against the perpetrator. And of course, there are criminal charges that most likely will be brought as well.




Roberto Cavalli Still Fighting Trademark and Copyright Claims

Against three graffiti artists. This one’s a bit more interesting because now the artists are adding copyright’s brother, The Lanham Act, to the usual copyright claim.

The California  judge presiding over this dispute has allowed the case to proceed, and found last week “that the stylized signatures of prominent artists from a San Francisco mural could constitute copyright-identifying information, and the unauthorized inclusion of the artwork on Just Cavalli apparel sold at retailers such as Amazon and Nordstrom could constitute trademark infringement and false designation of origin under the Lanham Act.”


Artist Files Suit Against Swiss Watchmaker

Via Artinfo:

Saudi artist Ahmed Mater has filed an infringement suit against the Swatch Group, parent company of Omega watches, over an advertisement that bears a similarity to his work[.]


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