Tuesday, March 3, 2015

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[.]


Appeals Court Rules US Post Office Must Pay Artist Another $540,000

Yes, the Gaylord v. US copyright infringement case is still going on. This time the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit upheld an earlier decision against the United States Postal Service (USPS) that it must pay Frank Gaylord $540,000 (10%) for the unauthorized reproduction of his copyrighted Korean War Veterans Memorial on a postage stamp. Key here is that this is a ruling concerning only the unused postage stamps sold to collectors, which the trial court, relying on survey data, determined sold for a total of $5.4 million.

Via Artnew News. Background story here.


Target Wins First Amendment Fight with Rosa Parks Nonprofit


Via The AmLaw Litigation Daily,

The Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self Development sued Target in 2013, claiming it illegally profited from Parks’ fame and violated her publicity rights.

Target’s lawyers at Faegre Baker Daniels didn’t dispute that the retailer had sold the Parks-themed merchandise in stores and online. But they asserted that Target had a right to sell the products under the First Amendment because they were all biographical works “relevant to matters of legitimate public concern.”

U.S. District Judge W. Keith Watkins in Montgomery agreed on Monday,  holding that the First Amendment shielded Target’s sales.


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