Thursday, April 25, 2019

Cockfighting and the Internet

Advanced consulting and Marketing , the company that broadcasts cockfights on the internet filed suit in federal court in Miami on Tuesday to challenge largely untested federal law that makes it a crime to sell depictions of animal cruelty regardless of whether or not it was legal where it happened so long as it was illegal where the depictions were sold. The only exceptions to this rule are depictions of animal cruelty which are for serious religious, political, scientific, educational, journalistic, historical or artistic value.

However, this raises a First Amendment issue; specifically, whether or not the government can ban depictions of illegal conduct as opposed to the conduct itself. Additionally, the company says it broadcasts the cockfights from Puerto Rico, where they are not illegal.

This federal law, enacted by President Bill Clinton in 1999, was to be narrowly interpreted, and its constitutionality is currently at issue in a case before the federal appeals court in Philadelphia, in which a Virginia man was sentenced to three years in prison for selling videotapes of dog fights.

Eugene Volokh, professor of law at the University of California at Los Angeles believes the law is unconstitutional: “The speech does not fall into any existing First Amendment exception.” This seems to hold true, particularly because the principle of the law, as written, would ban the depiction of criminal events by humans which are shown on YouTube or any other media network.


Update on Nussenzweig v. diCorcia Case (July ’07)


The Nussenzweig v. diCorcia Case is hardly over. Nussenzweig is now appealing the recent decision from New York’s Appellate Division, where the Court affirmed the lower court ruling that diCorcia did not invade Nussenzweig privacy and that diCorcia did not use the photograph of Nussenzweig for commercial purposes. A brief recapitulation of the case follows below.

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Update: Büchel’s Answer and Counterclaims Against MASS MoCA

On July 2, 2007, Büchel’s attorney answered

MASS MoCA’s claim and counterclaimed with five claims against MASS MoCA. As I previously surmised, the two main legal doctrines under scrutiny are the Copyright Act and the Visual Artists Rights Act (VARA), particularly as they pertain to reputation, attibution, public display, and derivative works, which interestingly and smartly include the plans and model of the installation.

Keep in mind that the crux of the argument here is MASS MoCA’s exhibiting of Büchel’s work without his consent or participation, along with MASS MoCA’s suit against Büchel in a district court to have the court rule that MASS MoCA can show Büchel’s work without any kind of visual covers.

It makes one wonder what would possess MASS MoCA to carry out such actions. Was this simply Mass MoCA Director, Joseph Thompson’s way of acknowledging the Bush regime by placing himself and MASS MoCA above the law, or was it a simple, hasty, and uninformed act of bravado which willfully sidestepped any counsel from lawyers. It is hard to believe that a million-dollar institution would not have access to legal counsel or the staff necessary to foresee these potential problems, or, better yet, the basic and fundamental premise that any financial and executory agreement of this magnitude be in writing. Why did Thompson not spend a few thousand dollars and hire a decent law firm to write an agreement between MASS MoCA and Büchel, which would, if drafted properly, have saved the museum, taxpayers, its staff and the artist countless hours and money?

Ken Johnson of the Boston Globe seems to agree: “One would hope that a museum thus engaged in artistic collaboration would understand and adapt to what kind of artist it is dealing with in any given project.”

Johnson concludes: “Obviously, Mass MoCA’s faith in the artist and his process was sorely tested. But does that warrant exacting revenge by turning his project into a show that misrepresents, dishonors, vilifies, and even ridicules him? A show that admits no responsibility for the project’s failure on the museum’s part and that affirms popular perceptions of our most innovative contemporary artists as frauds and charlatans? I don’t think so.”

Given a reasonable Federal Court and a strict interpretation of U.S. Copyright law, the verdict is quite clear: If you fail to prepare, prepare to pay. — Sergio Munoz Sarmiento

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Interview with Ruben Verdu: Updated February 20, 2008


I never met Ruben Verdu. This is not quite true. I met him in 1997 in a large warehouse-turned-loft in the then still desolate Willamsburg, Brooklyn. But I didn’t really meet him, because although he appeared for a minute to grab a bite, he was gone before I had time to converse with him. I saw him again atop a Brooklyn roof bar-b-q about a week later, and we spoke for a few minutes.

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New York City To Require Permits For Picturetaking In Public

The Mayor’s Office of Film, Theater and Broadcasting of New York City is hoping to force some tourists, amateur photographers, and filmmakers to obtain a city permit and $1 million liability insurance for any two persons wanting to use a camera in a single public location for more than a half hour. This same requirement would apply to any group of five or more people who plan to use a tripod in a public location for more than 10 minutes, including the time it takes to set up the equipment.

The NY Civil Liberties Union is opposing this requirement for fear of selective and discriminatory enforcement by police. The NYCLU believes that this requirement would now apply to anyone wishing to take pictures in Times Square, Rockefeller Center and ground zero.


Paris Court Orders John Galliano to Pay for Copyright Infringement

A French judge has ordered John GAlliano to pay 150,000 euros ($270,000) to photographer Willaim Klein, to compensate for abuse of Klein’s rights as author. Of this amount, 50,000 euros were awarded for making unauthorized and poor quality reproductions of Klein’s images.

The court of first instance in Paris said Klein’s “painted contacts” were a hallmark of his work and Galliano’s use of imagery was clearly illegal in the absence of authorization from the photographer.

Galliano said it would appeal the ruling with the aim of reducing the fine as it rejected the allegation its campaign could be considered “counterfeiting.”

Klein said he was particularly offended because Dior has led a relentless campaign against illegal reproductions of its own creations. Galliano was appointed designer at Givenchy in 1995 before switching to Christian Dior the following year.


Google Can Show Nude Photos of World’s Most Beautiful Women

Perfect 10 magazine, which offers a subscriber-only service that claims to have photos of “the world’s most natural beautiful women,” sued Google in 2004 for providing thumbnail versions of images from the magazine. A district court had found at a preliminary hearing that Google’s images probably constituted direct infringement. But on Wednesday, the federal appellate court disagreed.

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