Art Law Report

Did Philadelphia Inadvertently Step on First Amendment and VARA in Painting Over Cosby Mural?

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on July 28, 2015 at 12:46 PM

Few things have brought consensus recently more than the revulsion over the allegations against comedian Bill Cosby, a Philadelphia native. Yet in a desire to distance itself from Cosby, the city may have crossed a First Amendment line when a well-known mural entitled “Father’s Day” that depicts Cosby was painted over. And even if the city did not run afoul of that constitutional protection, the artist of the mural may have had under the Visual Artists Rights Act of 1990, 17 U.S.C. § 106A (VARA) rights too. Ultimately it will come down to whether the artist or artists object to the fact or the timing of the removal—an objection that would not necessarily be any endorsement or support of Cosby (or have anything at all to do with Cosby), but which might relate more to the right of expression.

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Topics: Philadelphia Inquirer, King Jr., Philadelphia, Visual Artists Rights Act of 1990, Martin Luther, VARA, Philadelphia City Mural Arts Program, Temple University, University of Massachusetts, 17 U.S.C. § 106A, Nelson Mandela, Bill Cosby, The Washington Post, First Amendment

First Week of Corcoran Cy Prés Hearing Wraps Up, Focus is on Financial Condition and Other Alternatives to Proposed Merger

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on August 1, 2014 at 6:35 AM

Judge Robert Okun closed the first week of hearings yesterday on the proposed modifications to the Corcoran Gallery and the Corcoran Gallery of Art + Design in Washington, DC. The Corcoran’s trustees have petitioned the DC Superior Court for cy prés, to modify the trust that governs the two institutions to allow mergers with the National Gallery and George Washington University. All told, reports indicate that both sides have made strong presentations of the financial hardship on the one hand, and the possibility that the proposal may not be the only way out of this on the other.

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Topics: Linda Daschle, Deaccession, Kenneth Duberstein, George Washington University, William “Billy” Martin, University of Maryland, Adrian M. Fenty, Wayne Reynolds, Cy Pres, Corcoran College of Art + Design, Catherine Merrill Williams, Wallace D. Loh, Buffy Cafritz, Lauren Stack, Frank Connor III, Trusts, The Washington Post, Corcoran Gallery, Museums, Susan Molinari, Harry F. Hopper III, National Gallery, Graham Holdings, Richard Okun, Marcus Brauchli

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