Legal

Copyright v. Trademark v. Patent

abstract art idea

“The Sleeping Virtue” by MissNickiPink

To Be in Copyright or Not To Be in Copyright. . . That is the Question.

Here in China, I’m currently teaching my darling students Business Law, which includes a healthy dose of Art and Cultural Heritage law surprisingly enough.  Although, if you think about it, Businesses deal in Art and Words as much as anyone–and I’ve discovered the rules for them are often similar to those for individual artists.  

But one of the most basic questions my students get stumped with is what is the different between a copyright, trademark, and patent?

Lawyers like to throw around those words like they mean something, but it’s a big pile of nothing for anyone else.  Still, many of your rights and protections are caught up in the relevant Copyright, Trademark, or Patent. So if you want to adequately protect yourself (in business or in art), you need to know which one you need.  

As I help my students, I thought I would share some information here as well.  I’m teaching basic overview of the law, so this is all simple information 🙂  Please Note: This is not intended to be Legal Advice! Every situation is different, and if you have a situation you need to speak with your own Attorney! (more…)

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Art and law come together at weekend conference

“Art and law come together at weekend conference”

by Michelle Liu via “Yale Daily News” 

An upcoming conference will show that artists do more with the law than get in trouble with it.

This weekend, over 350 people from all over the world will attend “The Legal Medium,” a multidisciplinary conference taking place this Thursday through Saturday at the Yale Law School. Organized by a group of 14 graduate and undergraduate students, the event aims to explore the relationship between art and the law, focusing on topics such as how artists manipulate legal boundaries in their work. Amar Bakshi LAW ’15, the main organizer of the conference, said the upcoming event is unique in that it approaches the art-law connection from an artistic rather than a legal perspective.

“Most conferences on law and art tend to be about how lawyers deal with issues such as repatriation of works, cultural property in different domains or even the economics [of art] and its linkages to different legal systems,” Bakshi said.

Alexandra Perloff-Giles LAW ’17, a co-organizer of the conference, also highlighted the uncommonly interdisciplinary nature of the conference, noting that it draws together a large variety of professionals from different disciplines, such as architects, curators, lawyers and poets. She added that such collaborative ventures between multiple graduate schools at Yale — including the YLS and the Yale School of Art — are also rare.

The conference will feature a presentation by performance artist Tehching Hsieh, who is renowned for acts such as relegating himself to solitary confinement for a year. His piece will both comment on legal regimes and interact with them, according to Bakshi.

Four discussion panels will also be held during the conference, exploring how artists interact with laws of the human body, artificial and natural environments, the digital world and the government.

Perloff-Giles emphasized that encounters between art and law in the modern world occur in many different ways. She cited the detainment of artist Tania Bruguera, originally a speaker for the conference, in December 2014 by the Cuban government after Bruguera attempted to stage an open mic event in Havana, Cuba.

In conjunction with the conference itself, Lucy Hunter GRD ’19 is curating an exhibition entitled “Irregular Rendition” at the Fred Giampietro Gallery on Chapel Street. Hunter said the exhibition seeks to expand the ways in which laws — ranging from laws of jurisprudence to laws of physics — are viewed from an artistic perspective.

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Art Law Rising

“Art Law Rising”

by Robert Milburn via “Barron’s”

The fast-growing and unregulated art market, invaded by art-collecting novices, has already seen a proliferation of hand-holding art advisors. Now we are seeing a new art advisor enter the market: specialist lawyers helping to settle ownership, copyright and authenticity disputes.

“Even people that have experience make common mistakes,” says Brian Kerr, partner at the recently launched art law firm Spencer Kerr. “The works being sold are of staggering value so the stakes are just too high.” That’s precisely when people reach for their lawyers.

Getty Images

Ronald Perelman purchased Popeye, by artist Jeff Koons, from Larry Gagosian.

Consider billionaire art collector Ronald Perelman, who sued fabled art dealer Larry Gagosian, claiming Gagosian “took advantage of his position of trust” and misrepresented the value of certain works. According to the lawsuit, Gagosian overvalued works sold to Perelman and undervalued pieces it bought from the collector. Among the works changing hands were sculptures by Jeff Koons and Richard Serra and paintings by Cy Twombly. In December, Perelman lost in an appeal with a five-judge panel essentially ruling that the sophisticated collector could have conducted his own due diligence.

Kerr represented London-based filmmaker Joe Simon-Whelan, in 2009, against the Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. Simon-Whelan purchased a Warhol silkscreen self-portrait for $195,000 in 1989, which back then was deemed genuine by the foundation. He resubmitted it to the foundation for authentication, in 2001 and 2003, just before an anticipated $2 million sale, and this time the work was twice branded a fake.

In the end, the Warhol foundation spent $7 million on its defense. Simon-Whelan eventually folded and was awarded nothing, claiming he was “deeply saddened” about being “unable to reveal the truth in court, but faced with bankruptcy, continuing personal attacks and counterclaims, I realized I no longer stood a chance of proceeding further.” Shortly thereafter, in 2012, the Warhol authentication board was disbanded.

Much of Kerr’s current work involves helping shell-shocked collectors recover scraps from among the emotional and financial wreckage, after purchasing a fake. But the law firm is also connecting its previously-burned clients with outside consultants and art advisors to help them establish clear provenance and authenticity before they buy new work.

“The goal is that when [clients] stick up their hand at an auction or buy from a gallery, that the legal side and consulting work is done hand-in-hand,” Kerr says. He adds that the consultants bill separately for their services and the law firm collects no fee for referring the business.

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A Family Battles Over a Disappearing Trove of Chinese Paintings

“A Family Battles Over a Disappearing Trove of Chinese Paintings”

By Graham Bowley via “New York Times

It has evolved into one of New York’s longest-running fights over an estate.

For more than a decade, the family of C. C. Wang, a collector whose name graces a gallery at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, has been battling over a trove of classical Chinese paintings and scrolls that has been described as among the finest in the world.

Now, the feud has escalated. In the past month, two of Mr. Wang’s children, who have been fighting in Surrogate’s Court in Manhattan since his death in 2003 at 96, filed lawsuits in state and federal courts accusing each other of looting and deceit.

But beyond the family strife, a broader issue is dismaying Chinese-art experts for whom the Wang collection has long been a source of wonder.

Dozens, perhaps hundreds, of works from an estate once valued in court papers at more than $60 million have gone missing, including an 11th-century scroll, “The Procession of Taoist Immortals,” that is viewed in China as a national treasure.

“This is heartbreaking, and it is happening right here in the city,” said Laura B. Whitman, a specialist in Chinese art formerly with Sotheby’s and Christie’s, who used to visit Mr. Wang at his apartment in New York to view his collection.

Divining who rightfully owns these works, and who is to blame for the disappearance of so many of them, has consumed the family for more than a decade.

The case has become so complex, and so expensive, that the Surrogate’s Court has suspended discussing matters of inheritance until it can come up with a reliable inventory of what was initially in the collection to see if the estate will be able to pay lawyers and other creditors.

Among the few certainties at this point is that Mr. Wang demonstrated the ability to acquire objects of historical importance, objects that since his death have increased many times in value as the Chinese art market has boomed.

Born near Suzhou, China, in 1907, he moved to the United States during China’s political upheavals in 1949, settling in Manhattan, where he built a career teaching, consulting at Sotheby’s, and dealing in real estate and in art. He became the dean of the rarefied market for Chinese art in New York and was an accomplished artist in his own right. By the end of the 1990s, the Met had bought some 60 works that were once part of his collection and named a gallery in his honor.

Among the Met acquisitions was a colossal hanging scroll titled “Riverbank,” attributed to the 10th-century painter Dong Yuan, but which attracted its own controversy after some scholars declared it a 20th-century forgery.

Maxwell K. Hearn, chairman of the Met’s Asian art department, said Mr. Wang acquired much of his important collection early on, when the market for Chinese art didn’t exist.

“He saw their continued relevance as sources of artistic inspiration,” Mr. Hearn said. “Now, they have become enormously valuable, because people are recognizing their cultural significance and acknowledge him as a source of validation.”

Before his death, Mr. Wang left some works to his daughter Yien-Koo Wang King, now 79, and some to his son, Shou-Kung Wang, now 85, both of whom served during different periods as confidant and business agent to their father.

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Association of Art Museum Directors Sanctions Delaware Art Museum

Association of Art Museum Directors Sanctions Delaware Art Museum

by MH Miller via “The Observer”

“The Association of Art Museum Directors has sanctioned the Delaware Art Museum following the institution’s deacessioning a work from its collection to help pay off its debt. William Holman Hunt’s Isabella and the Pot of Basil(1868) sold at Christie’s this week for a final hammer price of $4.25 million, far below estimate. Sanctions result in the museum being unable to accept exhibition loans from any of 242 AAMD members, not to mention a serious loss of reputation among the art community. The AAMD’s statement on the matter is below.

The Association of Art Museum Directors is deeply troubled and saddened that the Delaware Art Museum has deaccessioned and sold a work of art from its collection to pay outstanding debt and build its operating endowment. Art museums collect works of art for the benefit of present and future generations. Responsible stewardship of a museum’s collection and the conservation, exhibition, and study of these works are the heart of a museum’s commitment to its community and to the public. It is therefore a fundamental professional principle that works can only be deaccessioned to provide funds to acquire works of art and enhance a museum’s collection.

AAMD does not agree that the Delaware Art Museum had only two options to address its current financial challenges—sell works from the collection or close the museum. Over the course of more than six months prior to this sale, AAMD reached out to the Delaware Art Museum’s leadership on multiple occasions in the hope that we could offer assistance in investigating alternatives to the planned sale—including helping the museum to campaign for private funding—in order to support the museum in upholding the highest professional standards. With this sale, the museum is treating works from its collection as disposable assets, rather than irreplaceable cultural heritage that it holds in trust for people now and in the future. It is also sending a clear signal to its audiences that private support is unnecessary, since it can always sell additional items from its collection to cover its costs. . . . . .”

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