Copyright infringement of photographs and other printable materials is an ongoing battle for artists and publishers. With the ability to simply screenshot anything on a computer or phone screen, people are readily saving, sharing, and printing an excess of copyrighted material with a click of a button.
A notorious example is of course Richard Prince, who has been on a copyright infringement rampage, printing other artist’s works from the internet, and using the prints in his own exhibitions.
IBM is fighting this problem with their new patent application titled Copyright Infringement Prevention. The technology would identify potential copyrighted materials and notify the computer. After running the image/text/material through a search system, the technology will determine if the file is printable.
This is among the latest technological innovations aimed at protecting art. Recently, eBay launched technology to detect copyright infringing materials in their auctions. Additionally, Police were able to use technology to track down art thieves after the thieves sent a photograph of the stolen work to the Art Loss Register in an inquiry. Police connected the image to the camera, and the camera to the owner.
A New York couple is fighting to keep their “unique dream house” truly unique by suing neighbors who are building a similar home. The couple designed and copyrighted the architectural plans of both the interior and exterior structure; allegedly the neighbors requested these plans from the Building Department before beginning their own construction project.
The lawyers for the two couples are left to argue if the architectural plans in question are special enough that they are covered under the Copyright Act. The construction of the second home has halted, for now.
Following a year-long investigation, police experts deemed thirteen of artist Lee Ufan’s works forgeries, yet Ufan disagrees with this assessment. Despite confession from art dealer Hyeon, Ufan maintains, after analyzing the works himself, the pieces are authentic stating “I concluded that there is not anything strange with a single piece… the use of breath, rhythm and color were all my techniques… an artist can recognize his own piece at a glance.” The National Forensic Service and Seoul Metropolitan Police analyzed the works, deemed them counterfeit copies and indicted Hyeon. Hyeon took part in selling the works, one of which sold for close to a half million dollars.
It is not unusual for an artist to never touch their own works, to employ factories and apprentices for the physical labor of art-making, offering only conceptual instruction. The Ufan controversy begs the question: can an artist authenticate a work they had no part in any aspect of the creative process?
The owner of a painting attributed to Peter Doig is suing Doig for claiming he did not create the work. The owner claims he knew Doig over 40 years ago, forcing Doig to recount his whereabouts at that time. Doig says he does not recognize the work and that it is certainly not his, while a Sotheby’s specialist said it was “rare to see such a complete and highly resolved early painting by Doig.” Similar works by Doig have sold for more than $25 million, making the attribution of this particular work incredibly important to the market price.
While issues of attribution, fraud, and forgery are nothing new to the art world, the shocking fact about this situation is that a federal judge has arranged the trial for next month in the United States District Court for Northern Illinois. Essentially, this means Doig has to prove in court that the work is not his. A decision against Doig could have shocking consequences for artists.
July 6th, 2016 by Sergio Muñoz Sarmiento in Art Law
Victor Jara was a major protagonist in the latest show, Future remnants of a missing word, at Meyohas Gallery. His voice singing, “Yo no canto por cantar,” (I don’t sing to sing) echoed in various sound and video pieces. On Monday, a former Chilean military officer was found liable for his torture and murder. This comes 43 years after Jara’s death.
Here’s a video piece by Constanza Alarcón Tennen that was part of the exhibition, and here are Constanza’s thoughts on the indictment:
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Community members in Peekskill, New York, guided by artist Aviva Rahmani, wandered through their forestland coating trees with blue paint. Their tactic is to cover the woods, where construction is in process on a fracked-gas pipeline, with artworks and then rally to preserve said art. Necessarily, they suppose, saving the works would in turn stop the construction.
The community plans to save the artwork using the Visual Artist’s Rights Act. The Visual Artists Rights Act, although extremely limited, offers moral rights to artists. One of such is the right of an artist to prevent the distortion of their work. Although a clever tactic, it is certainly a Hail Mary pass. in United States law, property owners are generally favored before artists when contemplating whose rights are more protected.
Without question, social media has transformed how many artists interact with the public, how they brand themselves, and the very nature of how they disperse their work. But where social media opens avenues for reaching new, arguably larger audiences, in turn it forces stricter boundaries on them.
Not only are works confined to the rectangle of a phone screen, they are more abstractly restrained to “Community Guidelines” or “Terms of Service” within the social media platforms. Instagram’s “Community Guidelines” for example bans nudity, and states “always follow the law.” When social media platform subscriptions overpower museum visitation and become the main source for artists to show their work, this censorship is of a dangerous sort. It is not solely censoring artists within the social media platform, but necessarily, it is censoring artists work entirely. Further, social media platforms censor posts by museums, often the censored posts are ancient sculptures or famous and historical works.
Social media platforms will often eliminate artist’s accounts entirely, as punishment for their continued dismissal of the “community guidelines.” This leads to artists, to prevent being locked out of their account, self-censoring their work. Social media does not affect all artists negatively. Artists like Richard Prince have capitalized on exploiting the platforms, creating entire bodies of work in reaction to Instagram on Instagram (and in print). As exemplified by Prince and many other artists, social media has given artists an opportunity to brand themselves and gain attention interacting with other social media users on such a public platform. Arguably, Instagram and the like have opened a new performance space for contemporary artists, assuming they fit their work into the “Community Guidelines,” that is.