Thursday, March 23, 2017

Swiss Want Better Provenance System of Looted Nazi Art

After works of art plundered by the Nazis ended up in Switzerland, a report commissioned by the government says more needs to be done to trace the origins of these objects. The report, published this week by the Federal Culture Office, said access to the results of provenance research and to relevant archives must be simplified.

Via Swiss Info.


Trial Begins Today In Mattel-MGA Case Over Bratz Dolls

The archrivals are set to present opening statements Tuesday involving Mattel’s copyright infringement allegations, along with MGA’s counterclaim of unfair business practices and Mattel’s accusation of theft of trade secrets by its competitor. …”This is going to be a knockdown, drag-out fight, and it’s going to go on for months,” [Jack] Lerner, [professor at USC Gould School of Law,] said. “The jury is going to be given a massive amount of questions to decide, each one of which could cost MGA. And it’s higher stakes for MGA because Mattel is so much bigger of a company.”

Via NPR News. In case you haven’t been following this fascinating case (or need a refresher), click here for background info.


What Does Justice Look Like?

Ask Yale Law Professors Judith Resnick and Dennis Curtis. Both have just published a book, Representing Justice: Invention, Controversy, and Rights in City-States and Democratic Courtrooms, on just this subject.

By mapping the remarkable run of the icon of Justice, a woman with scales and sword, and by tracing the development of public spaces dedicated to justice—courthouses—the authors explore the evolution of adjudication into its modern form as well as the intimate relationship between the courts and democracy. The authors analyze how Renaissance “rites” of judgment turned into democratic “rights,” requiring governments to respect judicial independence, provide open and public hearings, and accord access and dignity to “every person.” With over 220 images, readers can see both the longevity of aspirations for justice and the transformation of courts, as well as understand that, while venerable, courts are also vulnerable institutions that should not be taken for granted.


Sex, Pornography, and Walt Disney Lawsuits

Disneyland Memorial Orgy. Copyright by Paul Krassner

The Museum of Sex has just launched a new exhibition, Comics Stripped, concerning comic books, sex, and pornography. What caught my attention on this Boing Boing post was the referencing of this cartoon poster by Wally Wood. It’s a parodyic take on the Walt Disney characters having, well, let’s just say, a grand ol’ time. It made me wonder if there had ever been (or will be) any litigation from the Walt Disney Company. The website, Illegal Art, has a bit of info concerning Disney’s decision not to sue, at least not until it was used for commercial reasons. The Atlantic Free Press has more on similar Disney lawsuits here. If anyone has any more background or any news on this, please hook me up.

From The Museum of Sex’s website:

From simple titillation to hardcore representations, comics have a long history of incorporating humor, scandal, fantasy and fun with sex. Originally used as a form of amusement and satire intended for adults, the societal perception of comics as wholesome entertainment geared toward children has made the inclusion of sexual content particularly jarring for portions of the general public.

A color version of Wood’s poster is available from Paul Krasner here.


Artist Autobiographies and the Private Details of Others

Many times artists will write, and publish, their autobiography. I often get asked by artists if it’s ok to disclose private details of their lives if it includes private affairs and details of others (lovers, parents, children, friends, co-workers, etc). This is a highly complicated issue and one that usually, as with fair use, ends with the answer, “it depends.”

Attorney and blogger Mark Fowler has just posted a nice and succinct article, Can You Tell Your Own True Story Even If It Impinges on the Privacy of Your Lovers, Friends, and Family? regarding just this issue on his blog, Rights of Writers. Check it out.


Graffiti Artists Know Copyright Too

While on my morning stroll to the nearby Espresso Bar, I encountered this poster near my home. I quite like it. You see, generally, artists–particularly graffiti artists–tend to get copyright law all wrong. However, this young chap–or gal–got it right: ideas are free. Copyright law doesn’t protect ideas, but merely the fixation (materialization) of those ideas. God bless Williamsburg dissidents.


Applying Copyright’s Fair Use Through Semiotics

H. Brian Holland, Associate Professor of Law at Texas Wesleyan School of Law, is publishing Social Semiotics in the Fair Use Analysis in a forthcoming issue of the Harvard Journal of Law and Technology. I haven’t had time to read it yet, but here’s a bit from the abstract.

This article presents an argument for an expansion of fair use, based not on theories of authorship or rights of autonomy but rather on a theory of the audience linked to social practice. The article asks, in essence, whether audiences determine the meaning, purpose, function, or social benefit of an allegedly infringing work, often regardless of what the work’s creator did or intended. If so, does this matter for the purpose of a fair use analysis based on a claim of transformativeness?

You may access the article here.


Clancco, Clancco: The Source for Art & Law,, and Art & Law are trademarks owned by Sergio Muñoz Sarmiento. The views expressed on this site are those of Sergio Muñoz Sarmiento and of the artists and writers who submit to They are not the views of any other organization, legal or otherwise. All content contained on or made available through is not intended to and does not constitute legal advice and no attorney-client relationship is formed, nor is anything submitted to treated as confidential.

Website Terms of Use, Privacy, and Applicable Law.

Switch to our mobile site