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?
Intellectual Property (Copyright and Moral Rights)
My Fellow Californians – Our Long National Nightmare is Over
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.…
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Life After Death – Right of Publicity Law
By Kathryn Hines and Christine Steiner
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.…
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.…
The Year In Review
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:
Artist Resale Royalties–New Cases under California Law
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.…
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“I-Arts” Viva La Revolución Digital
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.
Some Artists Paint Buildings
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.
Possessing Peace of Mind
Art title insurance addresses one of the most pressing issues facing the art world. The application and underwriting process is timely, straightforward and efficient: the auction house conducts its research, ARIS conducts…
The European Droit de Suite – An EU Effort to Strengthen the US Contemporary Arts Market?
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).
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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.