Sunday, June 7, 2020

Rogers v. Koons All Over Again?

Art Law Blog: A district court in Illinois has concluded that “a photograph of a three dimensional toy is a derivative work under copyright law,” therefore anyone photographing the three-dimensional object without consent is infringing the three-dimensional author’s copyright.

To those familiar with Rogers v. Koons, this may seem like a logical conclusion. However, copyright scholar William Patry disagrees, arguing that photographs of three-dimensional objects, sans any tranformative effect, are depictions and not derivative works, thus granting the photographing party a copyright in the depiction of the object.

The case is Schrock v. Learning Curve. More on this here.


Google Banned from Mapping Military Bases

From the BBC: “The US defence department has banned the giant internet search engine Google from filming inside and making detailed studies of US military bases. Close-up, ground-level imagery of US military sites posed a “potential threat” to security, it said. Among the popular mapping services offered by Google are Street View, which allows web users to “drive” along virtual US landscapes with ground-level views, and Google Earth, which offers detailed satellite and 3D images of locations around the world. In this case, it was imagery offered on Street View that caused the concern. But both have provoked complaints – from individuals depicted in the images and from governments concerned that satellite images could compromise security.”

The BBC has more on this.


Judge Dismisses Lawsuit Against Wikileaks

Today, the Bank Julius Baer & Co. asked a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit it had filed against Wikileaks on February 20th, claiming Wikileaks displayed stolen documents revealing confidential information about the accounts of the bank’s clients.

From the New York Times: “The judge’s action drew a flurry of media attention and a barrage of legal filings by media and other organizations arguing that the order violated the freedom of speech protected by the First Amendment.”

“After a hearing on Friday, Judge White withdrew that order, saying that he was worried about its First Amendment implications and that he thought it might not be possible to prevent viewing of the documents once they had been posted on the Web anyway.”

Proving once again that not unlike infuriated skunks, e-mails can leave distinct foul scents.

Here, a quick sniff from an email from the Bank’s lawyers to Wikipedia:

“> This is your final warning — if you desire to resolve this matter

> without the necessity of litigation, your counsel may contact the

> undersigned within twenty-four hours.


> You act at your own peril.


> Govern yourselves accordingly.”

Wikileaks has posted its e-mail correspondence with Bank Julius Baer here.


Concealment and Law in the Work of Carey Young

Carey Young’s art projects–invoking legal language and procedures–highlight the connection between law and visual culture without divorcing themselves from art historical discourses. Young’s work revolves around the role of categorization, narrative, and rhetorical/linguistic contestations. In particular, Young’s work seeks to elucidate how these three modes of linguistic production function not only within legal frameworks, but also how they in turn frame and are framed by other cultural discourses.

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Protesting Funerals Emotionally Harmful

Whoever said “I’ll rest when I’m dead” never heard of the Topeka Westboro Baptist Church. Church members have taken it upon themselves to celebrate the death of U.S. soldiers killed in the Iraq war by protesting in front of funeral events of the dead soldier. “Their message: The death of soldiers in Iraq is God’s vengeance against America for tolerating homosexuality.”

The father of the fallen soldier was so outraged that he decided to file a lawsuit against the church in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland Northern Division, basing his complaint not so much on restrictions of free speech but rather on intentional infliction of emotional distress and invasion of privacy. After the jury awarded the fallen soldier’s family $2.9 million, with an additional $8 million in punitive damages, God appealed! Furthermore, the interesting factor in this case hinges on the role video documentation plays for both parties (for defendant proof that hate of gays is part of its religion; for plaintiff that Church’s speech is emotionally harmful), and of course the Church’s free speech claim. Read more here.


Corporation Infringes Copyright, Ordered to Pay $19,000

Perhaps due to the new moon, on Friday, February 15, Stock photographer Chris Gregerson won a copyright infringement lawsuit against two corporations, both owned by the same individual. Incidentally, Gregerson appeared in court pro se (without an attorney).


(one of the stolen images)

Gregerson writes: “Vilana Financial and Vilana Realty used the two photos, taken unlawfully from this website, in a series of advertisements. Vilana sued me for defamation when I claimed they were guilty of copyright infringement (a court ruled they are). They added six more causes of action, including appropriation of name and likeness for posting Vilenchik’s photo on this page. Andrew Vilenchik, the owner of both corporations, swore at trial he got the photos from a stranger he met in a sauna (the judge ruled this was a lie). A trial was held in November, 2007, and the verdict was issued on February 15th, 2008. I won, they lost, and I was awarded $19,462.00 in damages. All their claims against me were dismissed with prejudice.”


Balancing Act , A Project by Christoph Büchel

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