Friday, August 7, 2020

Dear Professor: “You’ve Been Sued”

If you’re currently teaching and making course-packets and readers without consent of the authors, you better read this! Cambridge University Press, Oxford University Press Inc. and Sage Publications Inc. have sued Georgia State University. The publishers brought suit to stop Georgia State professors from copying what they call a “legitimate 20%” from books and making them available for their students, free, via online course packets.

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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?


(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


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?


“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 .


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