Friday, February 27, 2015

Will the Sotheby’s Caravaggio Decision Impact the Practice of Authentication?

I’m quoted at length in this article concerning a new authentication case and its possible consequences.


Famous Courbet Painting Sparks Facebook Legal Battle


Social media giant Facebook has been taken to court by a French user whose account was closed down after he posted an image of Courbet’s racy painting L’Origine du Monde (1866).

The plaintiff, a Parisian schoolteacher described by his lawyer Stéphane Cottineau as “a decent man, cultivated, and attached to the transmission of knowledge,” is seeking the reactivation of his Facebook account as well as €20,000 in damages.

Via Artnet News.


Court Finds Luc Tuymans Infringed Photographer’s Intellectual Property


A few stories floating around the internet report that a Belgian court has found Luc Tuymans liable for “plagiarizing” photographer Katrijn Van Giel’s photograph. We believe this to mean that Tuymans was found liable of infringing Van Giel’s intellectual property rights, most likely copyright. Keep in mind that plagiarism, at least under US law, is not recognized as an actionable legal claim. Rather, plagiarism is an ethical “violation” and not a legal wrong; that would be copyright infringement. And, we can have copyright infringement that is not plagiarism, and plagiarism that is not copyright infringement.

For now, Tuymans did admit to using Van Giel’s photograph of a politician in order to create a painting of that same politician. His defense? Parody. Why not? After all that seems to be the most popular defense raised by appropriationists against intellectual property infringement claims.

If this was in a New York court, and under the current Second Circuit ruling of Cariou v. Prince, we highly doubt that Tuymans’ appropriation would constitute fair use. But this case is being tried in Belgium, so who knows. Anyhow, it seems like the tide is slowly turning toward the owners-artists of the underlying work. Let’s hope so.

Tuymans plans to appeal.

More here via Hyperallergic and Artnet News.


Spain Arrests Alleged Art Forgers

Three suspected members of an art forgery ring were arrested in the Spanish cities of Zaragoza and Tarragona, El Pais reported. Accused of peddling drawings falsely attributed to Miró, Picasso, and Matisse, they’ve been charged with crimes against intellectual property and fraud.

Via Hyperallergic.


HuffPo’s Brief History of Art Censorship

After last week’s brutal attack on Paris’ satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, and in many ways on free speech in general, censorship remains as crucial an issue as ever. While sources like The Telegraph and the Associated Press self-censored images of past Hebdo covers in the wake of the tragedy, blurring out potentially “immoral” images of the Prophet Mohammed, other outlets defiantly published the same works. It’s clear that the phrase “harmful to society” is still a contentious qualifier.

Via the HuffPo.


New Encounters of Law and Art at Yale Law School

Performing Legal Consults Sign

I’m very happy to be part of this art and law conference.

On Saturday, February 28, 2015, Yale University will host a major symposium titled The Legal Medium: New Encounters of Art and Law. A very interesting group of individuals will gather to engage in a series of panels, presentations, and discussions.

Rather than focusing on the practice of art law, this symposium will examine law as an artistic medium, in and from which artists create. It will focus on how artists encounter, take advantage of and seek to mold law.


Amy Adler, Jack Balkin, Tania Bruguera, Mary Ellen Carroll, Joshua Decter, Keller Easterling, Liam Gillick, Kenny Goldsmith, Tehching Hsieh, David Joselit, Robert Post, Robert Storr, Sergio Muñoz Sarmiento, Doris Sommer, & Laura Wexler

If you’re in the area don’t miss it. Still plenty of time to register for it, and it’s free to the public.


Nadler Slams Christie’s and Sotheby’s on Resale Rights

Siegelaub's "Artist's Reserved Rights..." Agreement.

Siegelaub’s “Artist’s Reserved Rights…” Agreement.

At a talk last Thursday at the Princeton Club, New York Representative Jerrold Nadler didn’t mince words as to why Christie’s and Sotheby’s are against resale royalties for visual artists,

“So, I would argue that their concern is not so much with the details of the bill (although they may want you to think that), but with the whole concept to begin with. And on that front, we are just going to disagree. They are the ones out of step with the rest of the world, not us. We stand with the artists, while they stand with the collectors.”

According to artnet news’ Brian Boucher,

Christie’s said that it cannot support the bill because the number of working artists who would benefit is too small, the beneficiaries are already successful, and galleries and dealers ought to be subject to the law as well.

So basically, and as it concerns artists, the auction houses argue that no one will purchase unknown artists works and those artists that are being bought at auction are already rich enough.

At the risk of sounding cynical, this is why we love the so-called artworld. Everyone, and I do mean E…V…E…R…Y…O…N…E, is for supporting artists except when it’s time to be for artists rights. I wonder if these are the same people that voted for Obama and applauded Obama Care–you know, kind of like those luminaries over at Harvard.


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