Saturday, September 22, 2018
 


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?

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(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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George Lucas and His Legal Stormtroopers


True to courtroom myth, today George “Litigious” Lucas and his legal stormtroopers sued the original designer and creator of the Stormtrooper outfit in a British court for copyright and trademark infringement. Usual to “smart” appropriationists, Lucas claims the Stormtrooper outfit was at least one-year into design before Andrew Ainsworth got involved. According to the Associated Press:

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Savas’ Grave, Rothko’s Chapel


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Although we now know that Marilyn was a NY resident and where Eliot Spitzer liked to be spanked (District of Consumption), we don’t quite know where the corpse of Mark Rothko will eventually lie. His two children (Dr. and Dr. respectively) have now asked the NY Supreme Court (in NY the lowest court, but don’t ask us why because even though some of us attended law school it doesn’t mean we were paying attention) to allow them to lift him from his current burial site and transfer him to a more convenient and religiously faithful location in Westchester County. Talk about site-specific. More on the new Rothko chapel here.

 

Marilyn Monroe: Yankee or Golddigger?


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“Now that image, which has earned millions in licensing fees for Marilyn Monroe’s estate, is free for all to use and sell.” So hails Dan Slater from The Wall Street Journal. A Los Angeles Federal District Court Judge has ruled that because Marilyn Monroe was a New York resident at the time of her death, California state laws regarding right of publicity do not apply. Thus, Marilyn is stuck with New York state laws which give a right of publicity to a living person. More interesting analysis on this from the Art Law Blog .

 

“I think I am going to be sick. Something else to thank Cardinal Schönborn for.”


Spain’s EL PAÍS reported today that Vienna sculptor and painter Alfred Hrdlicka has caused great controversy over his exhibition, Religion, Flesh, and Power, which critiques the Catholic Church. Nothing new of course for the Catholic Church and other religious conservatives to take such a position, but perhaps the real blow for them is that the exhibition is taking place at the Dommuseum in Vienna, an art gallery attached to the historic Catholic cathedral of St. Stephen.

Which art works? How’s a painting entitled Leonardo’s Last Supper as Seen by Pier Paolo Pasolini, which exhibits so called “homosexual” and self-gratifying acts by the apostles on top of the historic last supper table. This painting has now been removed after countless conservative German, Austrian and U.S. complaints alleged the painting was “blasphemous” and “profane,” and accusing Vienna Archbishop Christoph Schoenborn of letting this occur on his watch.

More from EL PAÍS here, and more in English here.

 
 
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