Intellectual Property (Copyright and Moral Rights)

By Lano Williams and Christine Steiner

The past year was packed with litigation that ranged from broad constitutional questions to the ever present scourge of forgeries. Art Law Gallery presents highlights of some of the most important cases:
 Continue Reading The Year In Review

By Tyler Baker and Christine Steiner

On October 17, a proposed class of artists filed three federal lawsuits against auction houses Christie’s, Inc., and Sotheby’s, Inc., and internet auctioneer eBay, Inc., alleging that the defendants sold their artwork at California auctions and on behalf of California sellers, but failed to withhold royalties due. The complaints seek class-action status to represent many other artists and allege that the auctioneers engaged in a ongoing pattern of concealing the identities and residencies of sellers who live in California, thereby avoiding the five percent royalty due as agents for the sellers. All three complaints, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, allege violations of California’s Resale Royalties Act as well as California’s Unfair Competition Law.Continue Reading Artist Resale Royalties–New Cases under California Law

Whether iPhone, blackberry, or droid, the smartphone has become the modern day Swiss Army knife. Now, with the help of these ubiquitous gadgets, artists, collectors and institutions are modernizing the ways in which to interact with art. With a swipe of a finger, one can bid on a work at auction; finger paint with the “brushes” app; or even quelle horreur view Mona Lisa on the Louvre’s app!  While the smartphone will never (nor should it) take the place of pencils, brushes and paints entirely, digital media can be used thoughtfully to give useful shape to the art of the present. Moving forward with digitization, it is important for creative organizations to consider the key intellectual property concerns at issue when developing an iPhone app. By considering each of these issues in concert with skilled legal counsel as necessary, the art community will be well on its way to avoiding the most common and costly legal mistakes. 
 Continue Reading “I-Arts” Viva La Revolución Digital

Like it or not, "street art" is becoming a mainstream phenomenon in America. Due in part to the high profile of artists like Shepard Fairey and Banksy, and the pioneering philosophy of museum directors like MoCA’s Jeffrey Deitch—who has planned a large-scale street art show for 2011—what was once considered urban blight is now being recognized as a legitimate artistic medium. 
 Continue Reading Some Artists Paint Buildings

In 2001, the European Parliament passed Directive 2001/84/EG, which requires all EU Member States to incorporate a so called “Droit de Suite” into their respective national copyright law codes by December 31, 2009. A key goal of the Directive is to eliminate competitive barriers that existed in the contemporary and modern art market between Member States whose respective copyright laws had codified Droit de Suite decades ago (e.g.. France and Germany), and Member States whose respective copyright laws were silent on the principle (e.g. Great Britain, Austria, and the Netherlands).
 Continue Reading The European Droit de Suite – An EU Effort to Strengthen the US Contemporary Arts Market?

Last year’s Presidential election was historic on many accounts. Both campaigns saw an unprecedented turnout, as Americans from all walks of life came out in record numbers in support to their candidate of choice. Controversial artist Shepard Fairey, whose work includes "street art, commercial art and design, as well as fine art seen in galleries and museums all over the world,” was one of these Americans. (Complaint, Fairey v. The Associated Press, 09-cv-01123, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, at ¶ 9).  Fairey’s "Hope" and "Progress" posters depicting President Barack Obama became symbols of the Obama campaign and its grassroots support. The image became a familiar sight on the morning commute, adorning cars’ bumpers and back windows. A special version of the poster was created for President Obama’s inauguration and another version of Fairey’s Obama work now hangs in the Smithsonian Institution’s National Portrait Gallery in Washington DC.
 Continue Reading Fairey’s Use

The liaison between fashion and contemporary art has been continuously growing changing over the years. Painters, photographers, visual artists, illustrators, performers and creative artists, are commissioned by top luxury brands of fashion and trendy stylists to create new collections, to design their websites, to redesign the concept of their stores, to bring elements of innovation to their catwalks, showrooms and fashion show or to contribute to publications.
Continue Reading FASHION and CONTEMPORARY ART: an interesting liaison