Tuesday, November 25, 2014

I Mean, Why Can’t Corporations Be Artists?

Via quite peculilar at flickr.

Via quite peculilar at flickr.

Here’s an interesting conundrum. If a major petroleum corporation is alleged to “steal” an idea from a visual artist, the artistic community tends to side with the artist. But if it’s one artist “stealing” copyrightable work from another artist, most of the so-called art world tends to side the appropriator (usually the most commercially viable one).

The reason – clearly not a very rigorous one – stems from the fact that in the former example the appropriator is not a Liberal’s darling (and I don’t say this to be flippant or bombastic; the comment is simply borne out witnessing this effect the last decade or so). But what about the latter? That’s the one that interests me. If a visual artist can appropriate for whatever reason, under the guise that any form of appropriation is, per se, fair use, why can’t a corporation do the same? And if everyone’s an artist, why can’t a corporation – which already merits personhood and First Amendment protection, also be an artist? (I am of course here thinking theory and not current law, although under current 2nd Circuit law I’m not sure there’s much of a difference.)

If nothing’s original and we’re all just robotic retards reconfiguring unoriginal content, why does it matter who appropriates, and for what purpose?

Take a look at this example, concerning Kurt Perschke’s Redball Project, via our friends over at Hyperallergic. What say you?


Are ‘Volunteers’ Protected From Employment Discrimination?

According to the Sixth Circuit, not as far as Title VII is concerned.

So, can an organization decide to terminate a volunteer’s affiliation with it because of the volunteer’s religion?

The answer, according to a recent panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, is that volunteers who do not receive remuneration and other financial benefits and whose performance is not controlled by the organization in a manner similar to the employee-employer relationship are not “employees” under Title VII, and may not advance employment discrimination claims.

Something to keep in mind if you volunteer for arts nonprofits. Via JD Supra.


Must See: Sturtevant

Duchamp Wanted (1992). Elaine Sturtevant (1924–2014).

Duchamp Wanted (1992). Elaine Sturtevant (1924–2014).

If you’re in or happen to find yourself in NYC, you MUST go see the Sturtevant exhibition, Sturtevant: Double Trouble, currently up at MoMA. This is a quick post, and I’m writing a bit on her practice as we speak, but for now three key factors to keep in mind when seeing her work. One, the difference between copying and reproduction; two, the performative aspects of and to her work; and three, materiality.

You won’t be disappointed. Up now until February 22, 2015.


Ninth Circuit to Rehear Erroneous Kozinski Copyright Ruling


Earlier this year we highlighted a Court of Appeals opinion that was so out in right field it might as well have been a hot-dog vendor at Dodger Stadium.

Back in March we reported on this case, Garcia v. Google (here’s the actual opinion) where the Ninth Circuit’s Judge Kozinski basically said that a performer’s performance constituted a separate, copyright-eligible work. In plain English, that an actor performing for a film-maker owns the copyright to her/his performance. Where’s the fixation, you ask? Good question.

The other Ninth Circuit judges surely had the same thought, agreeing to rehear the case, en banc. Basically this is a slap-down to the previous Court, in a sense signaling that the Kozinski’s opinion is out of whack and in need of realignment.

At least the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals is smart enough to acknowledge the sexiness of and interest in this case,

Due to the level of interest in this case, this site has been created to notify the media and public of procedures and rules for admission to proceedings, as well as access to case information.

En banc oral arguments have been scheduled for December 15, 2014, in Pasadena, California.

The Hollywood Reporter has more here.


Show Me the Money! More on Artist Resale Rights

NPR ran a story yesterday on the reinvigorated fight in the US for a federal law granting visual artists resale rights, a type of royalty on the resale of artworks via auction houses.

Some artists are for it, while others, like Loren Munk, believe that artists are not only greedy, but whores as well: “‘Artists are like whores,’ [Munk] says, ‘and a lot of them are like old, old whores on the street’ who would be worried about scaring away potential clients.”

What’s the likelihood this bill will pass? NPR: “by some accounts, it does appear to have a slim chance of passing.”


Canadian Artist Uses Copyright to Stop Pipeline Development

Image courtesy of Peter von Tiesenhausen. Copyright Peter von Tiesenhausen.

Image courtesy of Peter von Tiesenhausen. Copyright Peter von Tiesenhausen.

I’m still trying to get to the bottom of this, so any Canadian copyright lawyers out there please feel free to chime in.

It appears that Canadian artist, Peter von Tiesenhausen, has been able to fend off pipeline developers by creating and installing sculptural works on his land. The confusing part is that news sources, like this one, are claiming that von Tiesenhausen has “copyrighted” his land as a work of art, and that it is this copyright that has kept pipeline developers from taking von Tiesenhausen’s work. However, this news source claims it’s “the threat of a long, drawn out court case that would be widely covered by the media.”

I’m wondering how much of this ado is due to potential moral rights claims von Tiesenhausen may have under Canadian copyright law, which of course would add to the value of the land (again, Canadian copyright lawyers please feel free to chime in). Canada.com reports,

His legal move vastly increased the amount of compensation he is potentially entitled to demand from any oil or pipeline company wanting access to his place, because changing his property would be copyright infringement.

“Now instead of maybe $200 a year for crop losses, we’d have to be paid for maybe $600,000 or more in artistic property disturbance.”

And there are still the negative PR issues the pipeline developers would have to face should they opt to move forward with acquiring von Tiesenhausen’s land.


Nevada Senator Introduces Bill to Preserve Heizer Project

Senator Harry Reid of Nevada has introduced a bill that would preserve the land around Michael Heizer’s massive uncompleted earthwork City. Titled the “Garden Valley Withdrawal Act”, the legislation would protect 805,100 acres of Federal land from mineral and energy development.

More via The Art Newspaper.


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