The recent U.S. Supreme Court decision in the latest art appropriation dispute likely has artists everywhere concerned that their works may be subject to future litigation. The highest court in the nation has found that the licensing of an Andy Warhol artwork, derived from a photograph taken in 1981 by photographer Lynn Goldsmith, was not
In June 2022, Yuga Labs Inc., the parent company of the Bored Ape Yacht Club non-fungible token collection, filed a federal lawsuit against artist Ryder Ripps, one of most vocal critics of the BAYC NFT project.
Ripps created his own NFT project around May 2022, which he called RR/BAYC, using online digital images from the BAYC NFT collection by generating new NFTs using URLs embedded in Bored Ape Yacht Club smart contracts.Continue Reading Bored Apes, Hermès Suits Foreshadow What Is Coming in NFT Claims
Case study of The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. v. Goldsmith litigation.
There is a consensus that Andy Warhol originated the saying, “Art is anything you can get away with.” However, further research shows that Warhol may have borrowed that quote from Canada’s media theory philosopher Marshall McLuhan.
Continue Reading Considerations of Copyright and First Amendment Rights in Appropriation Art
The Ninth Circuit reversed a lower court’s decision in an action seeking recognition of a French money judgment for copyright infringement involving photographs of Pablo Picasso’s artworks. The lower court found that the French money judgment was not enforceable due to fair use. The Ninth Circuit found that various factors weighed against the fair use defense and remanded to the lower court.
Continue Reading Ninth Circuit Reverses Ruling in Copyright Infringement Case Involving Photographs of Picasso’s Artworks
“Stay safe out there, anything too good to be true is a … scam.” Beeple, a popular digital artist, tweeted to his followers, addressing the phishing scam that took place on May 23, 2022, targeting his Twitter account. The attack reportedly resulted in a loss of more than US$400,000 in cryptocurrency and NFTs, stolen from the artist’s followers on the social media website.
After hacking into Beeple’s Twitter account, perpetrators tweeted links from the artist’s page, promoting a fake raffle for unique art pieces. The links would reportedly take the user to a website that would drain the user’s cryptocurrency wallet of their digital assets.
Continue Reading Hackers Go Phishing in Beeple’s Deep Pool of Twitter Followers
Jeff Koons Defends Copyright Infringement of a Sculptural Work, Claiming “Useful Article” Defense and Fair Use
In 2021, set designer Michael Hayden sued appropriation artist Jeff Koons for copyright infringement arising out of Koons’s use of Hayden’s 1988 sculpture in a 1989 series of artworks titled Made in Heaven. The original sculpture, depicting a serpent wrapped around a rock, was created as a stage prop for adult film star Ilona Staller (former wife of Koons). The infringing works depict Koons and Staller atop the snake sculpture in explicit poses. Hayden claims Koons never asked permission to use the snake sculpture, did not offer to credit him and never applied for a license, and that he was unaware of the claimed infringement until 2019.Continue Reading U.S. Copyright Office Weighs in on AI-Created Art, Jeff Koons Claims a Sculpture Is a Useful Article and Other Stories
Street artist Alessia Babrow has sued the Vatican, alleging that the Philatelic and Numismatic Office of the Vatican City State copied her artwork without her permission and reprinted it as a stamp. The art was a painting of Jesus by nineteenth-century artist Heinrich Hofmann, to which Ms. Babrow had added the slogan “just use it.” Besides neglecting to request Ms. Babrow’s permission, the Vatican allegedly only credited Hofmann, and not Ms. Babrow, for the derivative work. Ms. Babrow is seeking approximately $160,000 in damages and reportedly turned down a private visit with the Pope in favor of continuing her lawsuit.
Continue Reading The Vatican Faces a Copyright Infringement Lawsuit
SCOTUS Sets Precedent on the Expropriation Exception to the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, Ruling that Germany Cannot Be Sued in the United States for Taking Property from Its Own Citizens
The U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled against the Jewish heirs of German art dealers, who in 1935 sold gilded German reliquaries dating back to the 11th to 15th centuries (known as the Guelph Treasure) to the Nazi-controlled Prussian government. The heirs sued Germany in the United States, arguing that the sale was a “genocidal taking” under duress and seeking restitution of the reliquaries. Germany unsuccessfully argued before the district court and a federal appeals court that this case should be dismissed on the grounds that U.S. courts cannot hear lawsuits against foreign governments and their agencies.
Continue Reading SCOTUS Sets Precedent on the Expropriation Exception to the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act in the Guelph Treasure Case, and Other Stories
U.S. Supreme Courts Declines Certiorari in the 5Pointz Case
Two years ago, in one of the most important decisions applying the Visual Artists Rights Act of 1990 (VARA) since its adoption, New York’s Eastern District awarded $6.75 million in statutory damages to 21 street artists whose aerosol works were intentionally destroyed by the owner of the buildings on which they were painted. VARA gives artists the right to sue to prevent the destruction of a work of “recognized stature,” and to recover money damages if their work is distorted, mutilated or otherwise modified to the prejudice of the artist’s honor or reputation.
Continue Reading 5Pointz Artists Claim Final Victory as SCOTUS Denies Cert & Other Headlines
Two New York Antiquities Dealers Arrested for Allegedly Fabricating Provenance Documents
Two owners of a Manhattan-based antiquities gallery were arrested in connection with their suspected complicity in an alleged fraud scheme to swindle buyers with the use of fake provenance documents.
Continue Reading Brooklyn Museum Deaccessioning Artworks, Banksy Loses Trademark Battle and Other Stories