Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Monkey-Selfie Guy Still Thinks He Has Copyright

The infamous Macaca Nigra selfie (via Wikimedia)

The infamous Macaca Nigra selfie (via Wikimedia)

I guess having the U.S. Copyright Office issue a draft of its Compendium of U.S. Copyright Office Practices and specifically point out that photos taken by monkeys are a good example of something that can’t be registered is not enough. There’s hope, and there’s Obama hope. Good luck with that, buddy!


Is the Portrayal of Unprotected Sex a Matter of Free Speech?


A Los Angeles voter-approved law that requires actors in pornographic films to wear condoms was upheld by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals over the objection of adult-film makers, who claim the portrayal of unprotected sex is a matter of free speech.


Do Artists Always Own What They Create?


Here’s a good overview of copyright and the work-for-hire doctrine. Definitely a must-read if you hire others to create for you and/or if you are hired by others to create for them. If you think you know the legal definitions of “employee” and “independent contractor,” think again!


American Eagle and “Ahol Sniffs Glue” Settle Copyright Suit

According to Law 360, American Eagle Outfitters has reached a settlement with artist David Anasagasti, aka Ahol Sniffs Glue, who claimed the American Eagle infringed his copyrighted graffiti works in an advertising campaign.

Earlier story here.


Judge Rules $1.7 million Copyright Infringement Verdict Is Perfectly Fine

I mean, did Monster Beverage really think that using five Beastie Boys songs to sell their products was fair use?


What Responsibility Does a City Have to Its Public Art?

Tempest, as originally installed by artist, Brian Tolle, at the Bass Museum of Art, 2010.

Let’s start off with the following: if a city commissions a public art project from an artist, at the cost, excuse me, at the tax-payer cost of more than $400,000, then I believe we can safely say that the responsibility the city owes to its property is pretty obvious. More so, the responsibility it has to its tax-base is even greater. But, perhaps both are inseparable.

It’s just come to our attention that the City of Miami Beach has, without the artist’s consent, taken it upon themselves to remove a public sculpture, Tempest, installed in Collins Park (at the Bass Museum of Art) in 2010 by artist Brian Tolle. But why?

According to Tolle (via The Art Newspaper), the City of Miami Beach failed to maintain the art work, allowing it to be vandalized and used as a “toilet.” Why the City would allow this to happen to a work of art is beyond comprehension, but even more alarming is the fact that this is a $400,000+ work of art. As Tolle’s attorney, Donn Zaretsky notes, “the city is responsible for maintaining the [art] work.” We agree.

Take a look at the image of Tolle’s sculpture. Note the materials and installation. It doesn’t appear to us that this sculptural art work could be safely removed without suffering any damage. This is key because if it was (and is) damaged, can you say, moral rights violation? Remember that in the U.S., under the 1990 Visual Artists Rights Act, a visual artist has — among other rights — the right to prevent the use of one’s name on any work that has been distorted, mutilated, or modified in a way that would be prejudicial to the artist’s honor or reputation, and s/he also has the right to prevent any distortion, mutilation, or modification that would prejudice the artist’s honor or reputation.

Did the City not seek out recommendations for the care and maintenance of Tolle’s art work? Did City officials really think that removing (and possibly damaging or destroying) Tolle’s art work without Tolle’s consent would be cheaper than cleaning and maintaining the art work? In essence what we’re asking is, did the City just think that it could do as it pleased with a legally protected work of art, and with complete disregard to the artist’s wishes?

If this sounds familiar, our readers may remember the Mass MoCA v. Christoph Büchel lawsuit fiasco, brought to you, the taxpayer, by gross institutional incompetence and arrogance. And let’s not forget how that institutional tragedy also damaged the museum’s reputation in the eyes of many artists, curators, critics, and donors. One can only hope the same is not levied on the Bass Museum of Art or the City of Miami Beach.

It appears that post-removal, Tempest is somewhere in the vicinity of Miami Beach, but no confirmation on this as of yet. We will have more as this story develops.


Quote of the Day

“Support for the arts — merde! A government-supported artist is an incompetent whore!” – Robert A. Heinlein, Stranger in a Strange Land


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