Monday, November 19, 2018

“If you want to go ahead and create an orphan work, be my guest!” (Update)

Lawrence Lessig weighs in on the current debate regarding the pending Orphan Works bill in Congress. In a NY Times op-ed from May 20, 2008, Lessig writes: “Congress is considering a major reform of copyright law intended to solve the problem of ‘orphan works’ — those works whose owner cannot be found. This “reform” would be an amazingly onerous and inefficient change, which would unfairly and unnecessarily burden copyright holders with little return to the public.”

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“I am 100% convinced it is a Vincent van Gogh”

What could be a third portrait of Vincent van Gogh’s physician is currenlty stashed in a bank vault in Athens. It is believed this could be the last painting van Gogh produced, according to some art experts and collectors who are attempting to determine the authenticity of the picture found among the possessions of a Greek world war two resistance fighter.

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Rauschenberg’s Death Ends Lawsuit

If you were keeping track of Robert Rauschenberg’s VARA lawsuits, Donn Zaretsky updates us on how his untimely and sad death has brought these lawsuits to an end.


Mickey Mouse Earns Curator Criminal Charges

Russian prosecutors have summoned Yuri Samodurov, director of the Sakharov Museum in Moscow, to a hearing Tuesday, where he will be charged for his role in organizing the March 2007 exhibition, “Forbidden Art – 2006.” The charges stem from an investigation that was opened shortly after the exhibition debuted into whether Samodurov had incited religious hatred by displaying pornography-infused art works, some mocking the Russian Orthodox Church. The exhibition featured several alleged controversial works, including one depicting Christian worshipers praying to Mickey Mouse instead of Jesus Christ and another with a Russian general raping a male soldier next to the words “Glory to Russia!” More on this from the International Herald Tribune.


French Law Bars Google Voyeurs

“Two Google employees were spotted on the Western outskirts of Paris on Friday as they mounted a sophisticated array of cameras and laser scanners on the roof rack of their black Opel Astra. The equipment was connected to a Dell computer visible inside the car. Although the vehicle was unmarked, the driver and passenger said they worked for Google…[.]” However, because Google wants to offer global access via its Street View Program of Parisians in their scarves sipping lattés and reading their Derrida, Google will be forced to think about local laws and culture.

“In France, citizens have a right to their own image (droit à l’image): pictures identifying them as they go about their private business may not be published without their permission. That could put the brakes on Google’s … Street View in France, unless the camera-cars are accompanied by an army of clipboard-wielding legal assistants asking bystanders to sign release forms [.]”

More on this at the The Industry Standard.


Painting Murals Against the Law or, What is a Structure?

(Vyto Starinskas/Rutland Herald, via Associated Press)

The NY Times ran an interesting story today regarding a Vermont billboard law which made illegal the exhibition of “hand-painted signs that urge drivers to visit a designated downtown….” Interestingly, what’s at stake in Bellows Falls is not a billboard as we know it but rather a mural painted on the side of a barn. “I told the group when they hired me that you can’t do this because it’s against the law,” said Frank Hawkins, who painted the mural. “As a sign painter, it’s unequivocally a sign to me.” In response to this seemingly absurd law Vermont legislature just passed a measure which exempts murals such as this one.

“The legislation says the exempt signs must be hand-painted on a structure that has been standing for at least 25 years. They must direct people to a designated downtown no more than three miles away.”

“Just because a sign is pretty doesn’t necessarily mean it’s something Vermonters want on the side of their highways,” said John Zicconi, spokesman for the Vermont Agency of Transportation.


“It’s all just a question of getting permission to paint on someone’s property.”

Last week, Los Angeles artist Kent Twitchell settled his lawsuit against the U.S. government and 11 other defendants for painting over his six-story mural “Ed Ruscha Monument” for $1.1 million. The Los Angeles Times covered that story, and in that article Twitchell speaks about his disgust for malfeasants who take it upon themselves to vandalize his mural, all under the misinformed notion of “free expression.” In today’s L.A. Times, Twitchell defends his position. For more on the lawsuit, see The Art Law Blog.


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