Monday, June 18, 2018

Battle of the Dolls

(The Bratz)

The copyright infringement trial between Mattel Inc. and MGA (owner of the Bratz doll) has just gotten underway. Mattel basically argues that the designer of the Bratz dolls, Carter Bryant, was under contract with them during the time he designed these dolls. Under this contract, Mattel would have ownership of these designs. Mattel adds that MGA lacked the creativity to design these dolls, so “[MGA] thought the best way was to go out and take one.” We’re not doll connoisseurs, but these Bratz do look quite a bit like a poor girl’s Barbie (or else they’re from Florida). More on this at


Illegal Art and VARA

William Patry comments on an interesting law article dissecting whether or not the Visual Artists Rights Act (VARA) applies to art which is illegally installed on another person or company’s property. Patry cites a previous New York court ruling where the Court held that “VARA does not apply to artwork that is illegally placed on the property of others, without their consent, when such artwork cannot be removed from the site in question.” Seems that unless eventual destruction is part of the “installed” project’s concept there’s not much protection for interventionist artists. We have a feeling this is not the last time we’ll hear about this issue.


Can’t Afford Your Mortgage? Call It Art

(Kaufmann Desert House, by Richard Neutra)

Ok, it’s not just any house. It’s Richard Neutra’s Kaufmann Desert House, auctioned off for $15 million last week, and originally estimated by Christie’s to sell for $25 million. NPR reported last week that with the housing market going down in flames, “certain properties are being…auctioned as art.” However, “it helps when they have a name like Richard Neutra or Louis Kahn attached to them.” Check it at All Things Considered.


And You Thought U.S. Copyright Was Bad

Today’s NY Times has an interesting article on cultural appropriation and sex. Mexico’s National Institute for Anthropology and History had a problem with advertising images of a famous Mexican actress, Irán Castillo, “wearing” Mexican cultural icons on her “curvaceous” nude body. The cultural icons were digitally tattooed on her body and were meant to arouse touristic interest in the Mexican state of Hidalgo.


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Criticism Earns Artist Conviction

It’s safe to say that child pornography is reprehensible and without any merit. Wishing to make this point, an artist just experienced a great example of how even good intentions can go awry.

On Wednesday, May 21st, “the Helsinki District Court found [artist and scholar] Ulla Karttunen guilty of possessing and distributing child pornography in relation to controversial artwork that the 52-year-old created in order to criticize erotic images of children she discovered online. The court called the crime ‘a forgivable act’ and said it would be ‘unreasonable to impose a punishment, as the defendant has had the same goal as the lawmakers’ in wanting to eliminate child pornography, according to Agence France-Presse. However, Karttunen told Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat that she felt the ambiguous decision would make her seem even more culpable to the public, since she has been convicted but not punished. She also questioned why this material is so easily found online and why, instead of acting to remove it, the authorities instead pursued her for shining a light on the issue.” More from the CBC.


Picasso Heiresses Sue Author and Publisher

“Marina Picasso, a granddaughter of the Spanish artist, and Catherine Hutin-Blay, her stepsister, are suing the journalist Pepita Dupont and her publisher for allegedly defaming them and their relatives in her book about Jacqueline [Picasso]. The book, La Vérité sur Jacqueline Picasso (The Truth about Jacqueline Picasso) is Dupont’s attempt to rehabilitate the woman who is typically depicted as the wicked stepmother who prevented two of Picasso’s four children from attending his funeral.” Dupont explained: “What disgusted me the most was the fact that during the 20th anniversary celebrations of the Musée Picasso her name was not mentioned anywhere, not even in the catalogue. And yet I had seen her shed tears so that this museum could exist. It was her who battled for 12 years to set it up.” The Musée Picasso in Paris has refused to sell the book, reputedly for fear of offending the Picasso family.

Complete story over at The Independent.


Spain to Apply Resale Rights

According to EL PAÍS, Spain’s Minister of Culture announced today that pending approved modification to their intellectual property laws, Spanish artists may yet acquire what is known in France as droit de suite or, resale rights. Approved by the European Parliament in September 2001, resale rights have already been in effect in other European countries but with inconsistent results. EL PAÍS reports that Spain is trying to comply with this European resale right which applies to diverse artistic media such as painting, collage, drawing, printmaking, sculpture, tapestries, ceramics, crystal, photography, and video art. The resale right fee would apply to any real person or legal entity who habitually sells art within the art market, such as galleries, auction houses, and agents. The applicable resale fee would vary depending on the resale price: a minimum .25% would be charged when the first resale price surpasses 500,000 euros, and a maximum 4% when the first resale price surpasses 50,000 euros. The maximum fee assessed would be 12,500 euros, and the applicable fee would always be paid by the buyer.

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