Art Law Report

Google Books, Fair Use, and Visual Art—Second Circuit Writes Decision That Would Have Helped Two Years Ago

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on October 23, 2015 at 11:42 AM

With much anticipation, the Second Circuit issued its opinion last week in the Google Books case (Authors Guild et al. v. Google, Inc.), brought by authors Jim Bouton (of Ball Four fame) and others against Google for the latter’s program of scanning millions of library books, whether or not those books are in the public domain. My overwhelming reaction to the opinion, however, in the realm of visual art, is what a lost opportunity the Prince v. Cariou decision was two years ago, and some optimism that the most recent decision will start to provide useful guidance for practitioners that has been harder to give with confidence since Prince. After two years of the preeminence of the first fair use factor threatening to dwarf everything with a “transformativeness” test that essentially any use could meet, Google Books (even while finding a fair use) restores some balance to that analysis.

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Topics: Richard Prince, Campbell v. Acuff-Rose Music, Hildebrand Gurlitt, 510 U.S. 569, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, Prince v. Cariou, Second Circuit, Canal Zone, Patrick Cariou, Toward a Fair Use Standard, Michelangelo, Suicide Girls, Inc., Google Books, The Legal Guide for Museum Professionals, Pierre Laval, Jim Bouton, Copyright, transformativeness, Fair Use, Nazi-Looted Art: Risks and Best Practices for Muse

Richard Prince, Social Media and the Public Domain: Reports of Copyright’s Demise are Premature

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on May 29, 2015 at 6:15 AM

Reactions to the Richard Prince Instagram story continue to filter in, and highlight the perpetual confusion between what is publicly available and what is in the public domain. They are not the same thing, with important legal consequences.

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Topics: Richard Prince, Missy, Copyright Act, Prince v. Cariou, Canal Zone, Patrick Cariou, Suicide Girls, vulture.com, Yes Rasta, 17 U.S.C. § 107, Jerry Saltz, Instagram, Copyright, transformativeness, Fair Use, ArtNet, New York Magazine, § 107

Fair Use Fool me Twice, Shame on Me—Richard Prince Goes Trolling on Instagram But May Have a More Pedestrian Problem

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on May 27, 2015 at 10:35 AM

Few art law cases have received as much attention as that of Richard Prince and his dispute with Patrick Cariou over the latter’s Yes, Rasta photographs that Prince altered, defaced, and otherwise rearranged for his Canal Zone series. Prince has now garnered renewed attention for his appropriation of Instagram images in a set of works he has been selling at a Gagosian Gallery show called “New Portraits" (and in various other venues over the last few months). He escaped liability for infringement of Cariou’s pictures (though the case settled after remand; several infringement claims were still in play when the parties settled). Can he do so again? If this recent effort is not infringement, it certainly begs the question of whether the fair use exception has swallowed the rule. Lastly, Instagram itself may have prohibited the entire exercise in its terms of use, a possible avenue to short-circuit the entire copyright exercise.

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Topics: “New Portraits", Richard Prince, Copyright Act, DoeDeere, 2LiveCrew, Prince v. Cariou, Roy Orbison, Canal Zone, Patrick Cariou, Internet, Yes Rasta, 17 U.S.C. § 107, Instagram, Copyright, Gagosian Gallery, transformativeness, intellectual property, Fair Use, § 107

Fair Use and Transformativeness Pushback: Seventh Circuit Takes a Swipe at “Lazy Appropriators”

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on September 16, 2014 at 12:20 PM

Much ink has been spilled over the new world order seemingly announced by last year’s Second Circuit decision in Prince v. Cariou with regard to copyright, fair use, appropriation art, and “transformativeness.” In a nutshell, while roundly criticized, most commentators have taken the Prince decision to announce the apotheosis of “transformativeness” among the fair use factors in § 107 of the Copyright Act. Prince looked at the four statutory factors and applied them in such a way that to be considered “transformative” was to qualify for fair use. Most troubling was the “know it when you see it” character of the opinion. The Google Books opinions took a similar view.

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Topics: Richard Prince, Cheshire Cat, Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C. §106, Seventh Circuit, Prince v. Cariou, Mifflin Street Block Party, Google Books, Campbell v. Acuff Rose, Wisconsin, Sorry for partying, Madison, Copyright, Kienitz v. Sconnie Nation LLC, Judge Frank Easterbrook, First Amendment, transformativeness, Fair Use, mayor Paul Soglin, 17 U.S.C. §107

"Innocence of Muslims" Copyright Decision Against Google Could Put Distribution of Nearly Any Movie at Risk

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on March 4, 2014 at 4:46 AM

Last year, the Ninth Circuit stood out amongst fair use decisions in its opinion in Seltzter v. Green Day, particularly in contrast to what has persuasively been dubbed the Second Circuit’s "know it when we see it" approach to transformativeness as annunciated in the Cariou v. Prince decision. By contrast, the potentially destabilizing effect of the Ninth Circuit’s highest profile copyright case in 2014 can scarcely be overstated. Unless and until the full court reverses a three-judge panel in Garcia v. Google, Inc., nearly every motion picture will be in peril of "infringement." The consequences for the First Amendment and for free expression would be devastating. Although it was not raised, expect fair use to come into play if the decision stands and the case heads back to the trial court. The film is clearly transformative precisely because the plaintiff argues that her performance was unknowingly changed in service of a message she found offensive.

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Topics: Walter Sobchak, Copyright Act, Feist, Prince v. Cariou, Libya, Digital Millennium Copyright Act, DMCA, Youssef, YouTube, Innocence of Muslims, Green Day, Seltzter v. Green Day, Nothing Compares 2 U, prior restraint, 17 U.S.C. § 106, Cindy Garcia, Copyright, Prince, First Amendment, Google, Sinead O’Connor, Benghazi, work for hire

Lauren Clay, the David Smith Estate, David Dodde, and Fair Use: Are We Learning Anything?

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on October 18, 2013 at 11:07 AM

A pair of recent disputes over sculpture, fair use and moral rights highlights the ongoing concern that Prince v. Cariou has made things worse, not better. The first concerns the estate of sculptor David Smith, and sculptor Lauren Clay. As Art in America put it, “Clay's works replicate the shapes of Smith's large metal ‘Cubi’ sculptures at tabletop scale in materials such as paper, and with faux wood grain or marble finishes.’ The Smith estate, through its reprsentatives at VAGA, took issue with this as a violation of Smith’s copyright. During the discussion, VAGA apparently proposed an agreement in which Clay would agree either not to sell the works, or only to display them with a disclaimer that the works were not authorized.

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Topics: VAGA, Donn Zaretsky, Yellow Submarine, Art in America, La Grande Vitesse, Prince v. Cariou, the Donald Smith Estate, Visual Artists Rights Act, Sergio Muñoz Sarmiento, VARA, Alexander Calder, Copyright, intellectual property, Fair Use, Lauren Clay, David Dodde

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