Thursday, November 23, 2017

Judge: Kurtz Not A Terrorist

After approximatley five years of wasting public monies on a ridiculous charge, a “judge threw out charges Monday against Steven Kurtz, a college art professor accused of improperly obtaining biological materials for an exhibit protesting U.S. government policy on genetically modified foods. U.S. District Judge Richard Arcara ruled that the 2004 mail and wire fraud indictment against Steven Kurtz, a University at Buffalo professor, was ‘insufficient on its face.’”

“Kurtz is a founding member of the Critical Art Ensemble, which has used human DNA and other biological materials in works intended to draw attention to political and social issues. His arrest drew protests from artists in several countries who called the charges an intrusion on artistic freedom.The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Buffalo said it was considering an appeal but otherwise declined to discuss the ruling,” said CBC.


It’s So Famous I didn’t Know It Was Missing

A painting by famous Swiss painter, Ferdinand Hodler, was reported stolen last month when shippers arrived at the owner’s home, only to be advised by the owner that the painting had already been given to them. After mutual bafflement, the owner advised the shippers that an “unknown woman presented herself more than a year earlier to pick up the artwork for the show, arousing no suspicion[.]” The painting is reported to be worth 1.1 million francs ($1.1 million). From


Jesus Has Left the Building

A federal judge ruled this past week that Jesus cannot hang (out) in a courthouse unless he’s accompanied by “other historical ‘lawgivers,’ including Moses, Charlemagne and Napoleon Bonaparte.” To be precise, the federal judge actually ruled that a painting depicting Jesus presenting the New Testament above the words, “To Know Peace, Obey These Laws” cannot hang in a Louisiana courthouse unless the context makes it clear that the courthouse is not endorsing a particular religion. Read more on this at The First Amendment Center.


Dear Professor: “You’ve Been Sued”

If you’re currently teaching and making course-packets and readers without consent of the authors, you better read this! Cambridge University Press, Oxford University Press Inc. and Sage Publications Inc. have sued Georgia State University. The publishers brought suit to stop Georgia State professors from copying what they call a “legitimate 20%” from books and making them available for their students, free, via online course packets.

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Can Orangutans Own Intellectual Property?

NPR reported recently that “[s]everal zoos across the country now sell paintings done by animals. The Houston Zoo, for example, offers a $500 experience, in which you can sit and watch an orangutan make a painting just for you.”

We couldn’t help but wonder: Who owns the copyright to the orangutan’s painting?


(Chimp putting finishing touches on painting for 2008 Whitney Biennial)

We think there are a four options (with the first being the winner).

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Surreal: 1.3 Million in Intellectual Property

From Tuesday’s El País: The Dali Foundation reported net earnings in 2007 of €1.3 million based on reproduction rights, trademarks and rights of publicity for Salvador Dali and his works. The foundation is also revising their editorial contracts and trademarks, as well as “collaborating regularly with police and Interpol. Grand forgeries are rare, but fraudulent reproductions based on abuse of the original contracts are quite frequent,” said foundation director Joan Manuel Sevillano.


Return of the Repressed: Visual Artists Rights Act

Once again we face the predicament of giving judges the right to decide when something is art. If this rings a bell, it’s probably tolling from Massachusetts. Anyhow, Donn Zaretsky at the Art Law Blog comments on the recent lawsuit brought by Robert Rauschenberg against Robert Fontaine, claiming that Fontaine infringed Rauschenberg’s VARA rights when Fontaine sold some of Rauschenberg’s trash as art. It’s not clear to us how Fontaine went about this: whether he claimed the work to be an authentic Rauschenberg or whether Fontaine simply sold it as discarded junk from Rauschenberg’s trash heap (word is Fontaine sold some of this trash with forged certificates of authenticity).

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