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The Art Law Report Turns Three: the Training Wheels are Off

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on September 15, 2014 at 5:36 AM

As I have before, I wanted to mark the third anniversary of this blog since we posted three articles on September 15, 2011. In the last year, you (the reader) have helped the Report grow beyond our most optimistic hopes. We have done our best to cover significant events like the Gurlitt saga and restitution issues, the Detroit bankruptcy and the Detroit Institute of Arts, the Corcoran Gallery merger, auction houses and privacy in New York, the Beastie Boys GoldieBlox and copyright/fair use, the “flea market Renoir” case, and so much more. Our monthly traffic in year three has almost surpassed the readers in all of year one, and the sky is the limit. As always, the goal remains to present a fresh perspecive on these legal issues affecting the visual arts and its institutions, of use and interest both to the lawyer and non-lawyer alike.

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Topics: Deaccession, Gurlitt Collection, Cy Pres, the Art Law Report, Gurlitt, Restitution, GoldieBlox, Copyright, Detroit Instiute of Arts, Corcoran Gallery, Beastie Boys, Detroit Bankruptcy, Fair Use

Is "Dumb Starbucks" an Art Gallery in the Eyes of the Law?

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on February 10, 2014 at 12:24 PM

News that a coffee shop had opened in Los Angeles entitled "Dumb Starbucks" has again raised the proper interpretation of fair use under U.S. intellectual property law into the realm of popular culture and commerce. Whereas last year’s Beastie Boys/GoldieBlox dustup (still ongoing) revolved primarily around copyright law, here the potential issue is one of trademark infringement. To stave off accusations of liability, the new enterprise has preemptively labeled itself an "art gallery." Will this hold up? Even Starbucks seems puzzled.

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Topics: 505 U.S. 763, parody, Landham Act, Weird Al Yankovic, @dumbstarbucks, Green Day, Bad Starbucks, 17 U.S.C. § 107, 15 U.S.C. § 1115(b)(4), GoldieBlox, Copyright, Dr. Evil, Starbucks, Number Two, Twitter, Two Pesos Inc. v. Taco Cabana Inc., Beastie Boys, Fair Use, Merriam-Webster, Austin Powers

Now who’s rapping like it’s a commercial? The Beastie Boys counterclaim against GoldieBlox Web advertisement

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on December 11, 2013 at 3:28 AM

After GoldieBlox announced with great fanfare that it would withdraw its claim seeking a declaratory judgment that its use in a video of the Beastie Boys song “Girls” was a fair use under the Copyright Act, many assumed that was the end of it and that the only point for discussion was GoldieBlox’s motivation. As we pointed out at the time, however, that “offer” was not accompanied by a dismissal of the already filed lawsuit. Presumably, the Beastie Boys either declined, or failed to respond, because the band has now answered the Complaint and filed counterclaims, alleging copyright and trademark infringement.

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Topics: Cariou v. Prince, Copyright Act, Campbell v. Acuff Rose Music Inc., Green Day, Michael Diamond, Adam Yauch, “Girls”, GoldieBlox, Copyright, Adam Horowitz, Beastie Boys, Fair Use

GoldieBlox Declares a Truce with the Beastie Boys, What was That All About?

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on December 2, 2013 at 4:25 AM

After the skirmish over whether GoldieBlox's video featuring the melody and parodied lyrics of "Girls" by the Beastie Boys was fair use or infringement, the company abruptly altered the video in question on its website. The same video is now accompanied by different music. The company also issued the following statement on its blog:

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Topics: “Girls”, GoldieBlox, Copyright, Beastie Boys, Fair Use

GoldieBlox Parodies the Beastie Boys and “Girls”—Fair Use is Clear, What About Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody”?

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on November 26, 2013 at 6:35 AM

Coverage has exploded this week of a dispute between the Beastie Boys and a company called “GoldieBlox,” over the latter’s use of the song “Girls” in a video encouraging engineering and structural play toys for girls. Despite coverage focusing on whether Goldie Box copied the Beastie Boys’ song (which is undisputed, really, and thus beside the the point in this case), the fair use of the earlier song is clear: the new version is a parody of a leering anthem, intended to subvert inherent sexism into a message of empowerment. Curiously, however, the fair use in another video on the company’s site using the Queen song “Bohemian Rhapsody” seems less clear, but so far unnoticed.

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Topics: License to Ill, Copyright Act, Campbell v. Acuff-Rose Music, Queen, Digital Millennium Copyright Act, DMCA, Adam Yauch, “Bohemian Rhapsody”, “Girls”, GoldieBlox, Copyright, MCA, Beastie Boys, Fair Use

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About the Blog

The Art Law Report provides timely updates and commentary on legal issues in the museum and visual arts communities. It is authored by Nicholas M. O'Donnell, partner in our Art & Museum Law Practice.

The material on this site is for general information only and is not legal advice. No liability is accepted for any loss or damage which may result from reliance on it. Always consult a qualified lawyer about a specific legal problem.

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