In a decision issued November 27, 2023, a Chinese court ruled that AI-generated content can enjoy protection under copyright law. The finding, the first of its kind in China, is in direct conflict with the human authorship requirement under U.S. copyright law and may have far-reaching implications.Continue Reading Computer Love: Beijing Court Finds AI-Generated Image is Copyrightable in Split with United States
On June 8, 2023, the Supreme Court in a unanimous decision held that a trademark claim concerning “a squeaky, chewable dog toy designed to look like a bottle of Jack Daniels whiskey” which, as a play on words, turns the words “Jack Daniels” into “Bad Spaniels” and the descriptive phrase “Old No. 7 Brand Tennessee Sour Mash Whiskey” into “The Old No. 2 On Your Tennessee Carpet” does not receive special First Amendment treatment where the accused infringer used the trademarks at issue to designate the source of its own goods and that, with respect to a Lanham Act dilution by tarnishment claim, “[t]he use of a mark does not count as noncommercial just because it parodies, or otherwise comments on, another’s products.”Continue Reading Supreme Court Rules “That Dog Don’t Hunt”: Bad Spaniels Toy’s Use of JACK DANIELS Marks is a Poor Parody and Dilution Act Applies
On May 18, 2023, the United States Supreme Court ruled in favor of famed rock photographer Lynn Goldsmith against the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc.’s (AWF), in a long-awaited decision impacting fair use under Section 107(1) of the Copyright Act. The opinion written by Justice Sotomayor, in which Justices Thomas, Alito, Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, Barrett and Jackson joined, held that the “purpose and character” of AWF’s commercial use of Warhol’s portraits of Prince shared the same commercial purpose of the original photograph taken by Ms. Goldsmith and, as a result, did not constitute fair use. The Court’s decision affirmed the ruling of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, which held that the Warhol work was derivative of the original, and noted that “the new expression may be relevant to whether a copying use has a sufficiently distinct purpose or character” but that factor was not dispositive by itself. The Court found that the Warhol Foundation’s licensing of the Orange Prince to Conde Nast did not have a sufficiently different purpose as the Goldsmith photograph because both were “portraits of Prince used in magazines to illustrate stories about Prince.”Continue Reading Supreme Court Finds Warhol’s Commercial Licensing of “Orange Prince” to Vanity Fair Is Not Fair Use and Infringes Goldsmith’s Famed Rock Photo
The highly anticipated jury verdict in the Hermès litigation over MetaBirkins NFTs has some important takeaways for both artists and sellers of NFTs as well as brand owners.Continue Reading Takeaways from the Hermès Litigation over MetaBirkins NFTs
News of up-and-coming Detroit-based artist, Katherine Craig, splattered across headlines in the art world when she recently filed a lawsuit under Visual Artists Rights Act (VARA). The complaint requests injunctive relief against the new owner of the building on which her mural is displayed, asserting that the building owner’s plans for renovation and/or sale threaten to “deface, modify, mutilate, or destroy” the art in violation of Ms. Craig’s rights granted under VARA.
Continue Reading Don’t Cry Over Spilled Paint — Sue! VARA Claim Filed Against Detroit Real Estate Company
Readers will recall that in 2012 the U.S. District Court struck down the California Resale Royalties Act, holding that the 1970s-era law violated the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution.
Continue Reading Ninth Circuit Hearing on California Resale Royalties
On January 23rd, in a rare public appearance, Jasper Johns testified against a New York foundry owner, Brian Ramnarine, who was charged with creating unauthorized sculptures, including a fraudulent Johns “Flag” sculpture which Ramnarine allegedly made from the original mold and attempted to sell for $11 million. Johns testified that the sculpture was not authorized, the signature was forged and the certificate of authenticity was a fake. Ramnarine pled guilty to three counts of wire fraud in Manhattan federal court, admitting that he had tried to sell unauthorized sculptures of Johns and other artists.
Continue Reading Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing: Despite Forgery Scandals, the Fine Art Market is Booming
This summer, Pacific Standard Time’s world-class exhibits highlight the architecture that gives Southern California its unique reputation for modern but relaxed style. This series of exhibits, a Getty initiative, titled “Modern Architecture in LA,” maps the aspect of Los Angeles architecture that is often overwhelmed by residential structures, instead focusing on infrastructure and urban planning, commercial and civic buildings, and housing experiments, among others. Architecture is an art form, and it is also a distinct practice in and of itself. When considering the relationship between art and architecture, it is interesting to see how these practices are at once similarly and differently protected by the law. The Copyright Act of 1976 and the Berne Convention have all resolved to give architects the protection they deserve. But is this protection enough?Continue Reading The Architecture of Copyright
In the same era Gerald Ford advised his fellow Americans that “our long national nightmare is over,” as he succeeded Richard Nixon as president, the California Legislation enacted the sloppily-drafted California Resale Royalty Act, Civil Code Section 986. The act was not exactly a nightmare, in truth it slumbered for most of its thirty-plus lifetime. It seemed more honored in the breach than the observance. Recent awareness of the resale royalty obligation, though, has caused confusion and consternation for California sellers, for California artists and for the art trade nationwide. Some have, in fact, described it as a nightmare. As of late last week, the nightmare may be over.Continue Reading My Fellow Californians – Our Long National Nightmare is Over
Society is consumed with celebrity. We can survey Hollywood marriages and divorces, analyze Golden Globe wardrobe choices and comment upon the latest Lindsey Lohan foible. It is not surprising that many artists have channeled this societal obsession, featuring celebrities in paintings, collages and video installations. Moreover, as we approach the anniversaries of the death dates of Elizabeth Taylor, Michael Jackson and Amy Winehouse, commemorative portraits are likely to be in high demand. But when does using a celebrity image in art infringe that celebrity’s right of publicity? It depends. While an artistic rendering of a recognizable person may be protected under the First Amendment, there are limits to this protection.Continue Reading Life After Death – Right of Publicity Law
By Sarah Pavlock and Christine Steiner
The appeal in the case of Cariou v. Prince is shaping up to be the biggest visual arts copyright case in many years. It will likely result in guidance on what qualifies as a transformative use for appropriation art under the doctrine of fair use. Appropriation art "borrows" pre-existing works or images of the creative work of another artist in order to create something new and original. While this alone may seemed packed with copyright issues, it is generally not an appropriation artist’s intent to "rip off" another artist’s work. Usually, the success of the new work depends on the viewer’s recognition of the underlying work; the "aha" moment is the connection between the old and the new as the viewer recognizes the original work or that another work has been taken, and differentiates the creative changes that have been made in the new work.Continue Reading Rastaman Vibration