Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Baltimore Museum’s sale agreement with Sotheby’s is plagued with “irregularities and potential conflicts of interest”

[A] group of 23 museum supporters is calling on the government to investigate and put a stop to the planned deaccessioning.

In a strongly worded six-page letter to Maryland attorney general Brian Frosh and secretary of state John C. Wobensmith, signatories including former BMA board chairwoman Constance R. Caplan allege that the sale agreement with Sotheby’s is plagued with “irregularities and potential conflicts of interest” and should not be allowed to proceed.

More here.


Fire Sale

Yachts, planes, and blue chip art are up for grabs. Just not on Craigslist.


Transgressive street artist may lose intellectual property

Apparently Banksy’s anonymity and surreptitious art practice is costing him…big time.

“Banksy has chosen to remain anonymous and, for the most part, to paint graffiti on other people’s property without their permission, rather than to paint it on canvases or his own property,” the panel said.


Who owns Emily?

but I will remain as the real Emily; the Emily who owns the high-art Emily, and the one who wrote this essay, too. She will continue to carve out control where she can find it.

Interesting essay by writer and model, Emily Ratajkowski, on authorized and unauthorized uses of her image, and how one’s image and name can quickly become a product and brands. With the rise of social media and the evisceration of truth and meaning (not just fake news), how much is under our control?

And, as she rightly points out, “it costs. A lot.” to hire lawyers to take care of these pesky matters.


You too can insert your fave artworks into a video game

WSJ on how video gamers are using public domain images from art museums, like The J. Paul Getty, in order to “cultivate their own islands.” (via paywall).


License to use copyrighted work in connection with criminal activity

Public License for Criminal Use, 2014 – 2020
Alfred Steiner
No physical dimensions
Offer, acceptance, consideration

There’s a lot of buzz during these Covid days concerning the employment of written agreements by artists. As I’ve indicated on this blog, this “practice” is nothing new, if by new we mean this year or the last few years. What is interesting to me is to see how creative artists get.

A long-time friend of mine, artist and lawyer, Alfred Steiner has just released his Public License for Criminal Use. Below, he explains the origins of this contract and his intent with drafting such an agreement. One aspect of Alfred’s agreement that I find quite interesting is how it sits squarely between the space of the law and the out-law. First year law students quickly learn that contractual agreements that engage criminal activity are not lawful, they are not binding (at least within courts of law). But that is not what Alfred’s contract is.

Rather, is Alfred encouraging criminal activity, or is he merely stating that no civil liability will befall any person wishing to use his copyrighted content for “criminal purposes”? With so much still unclear in the “art law” arena, such as graffiti murals painted on property without consent, Alfred’s contract highlights the current pandemic in artistic practices, with the pandemic being safe and conservative approaches to the making and interpretation of art.

One last thing: note what Alfred describes as the “medium” to this artwork!

Now take a look at the agreement and see what you think. Here are Alfred’s thoughts on his project:

This is one of several contracts I’ve drafted for primarily non-legal or aesthetic purposes. I conceived of it in 2014, but didn’t draft the license itself until 2020, when the coronavirus pandemic gave me more time to develop a larger body of works that need nothing more than words to appreciate. In a sense, I’m giving away all of my work by giving away nothing. Anyone can use any of my work for free, as long as the use is in connection with activity that violates applicable criminal law. By contrast, a typical license is limited for uses in accordance with applicable law.

The work raises many questions, including: How can a work of art be used for criminal purposes? Would an artist be morally culpable (r criminally liable) for a crime committed using the artist’s work with permission? Has a notorious criminal ever been taken down on criminal copyright charges, a la Al Capone’s prosecution for tax evasion? Would the license be enforceable or would it be found void as contrary to public policy (in which latter case I might still succeed in a copyright infringement action against an unwary “licensee”)? How can artists contribute to changing unjust or overreaching laws (think Jim Crow, the War on Drugs, anti-sodomy laws, etc.)?
While I continue to consider these questions, I suppose I can look forward to my first indictment for aiding and abetting graffiti vandalism or distribution of LSD. –
-Alfred Steiner


Art & Law Program celebrates 10 years!

Pictured here are the 2010 fellows at Michelle Maccarone Gallery for the artist exhibition.

This month marks the 10th year of the Art & Law Program. The group pictured above is the first class of fellows, whom I thank dearly for putting up with chaos and an unforged path. I learned so much, and still do from each and every class. I think the Program hit its stride around 2014, and since then, like good wine, it’s only gotten better. A huge thanks to all the supporters, especially Cornell Law dean Eduardo Penalver, Cornell Law School, Bob Balder and Brooke Moyse at Cornell AAP in NYC, Lawrence Chua, Paul Pheiffer, Julie Mehretu, John Letourneau, Rachel Carrigan, and Asher all at Denniston Hill, Fordham Law School, and to all the supporters and seminar leaders that have given their time, money, and resources. And of course, and without saying, a very, very heart-felt thank you to Lauren van Haaften-Schick. If there’s anyone who’s been through hell, it’s her. Here’s to another 10!


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