Is AI really art? Getty Images has banned the upload and sale of images generated by using AI art tools such as DALL-E, stating that there are pressing copyright concerns and unaddressed rights issues related to imagery, metadata and subjects contained within the illustrations. While the creators of AI image generators state that the technology is legal, there is no guarantee that this status won’t be contested. AI and machine learning applications sample other artists’ and therefore reference thousands of pieces of work from other artists to create AI-derivative images. Getty images will rely on users to identify and report such images generated by AI to remove them, though there it will be challenging to enforce the ban.
UK clearing out money laundered property? Labour-run Westminster Council in London is exploring whether compulsory purchase powers can be used against the owners of luxury houses who fall behind on their council tax. Westminster’s suggestion is that these multi-million pound properties could be turned into affordable housing to reduce the 4,000 person waiting list. There is the suggestion that Westminster could expand this power if property was bought with so called ‘dirty money’ as part of a crackdown on money laundering. Since 2016, Russian oligarchs accused of corruption have purchased property in Westminster worth £430 million. The council is currently examining this avenue in relation to a property registered in Seychelles which is in council tax arrears. However, there are transparency issues with regard to property ownership as some such properties appear to be held by untraceable’ shell’ companies and whether they have authority to use compulsory purchase powers in this context at all. Thus, limiting this potential route’s practical impact and how close to realisation it is.
Let’s get physical… or digital? Artist Damien Hirst in collaboration with HENI, an international art services business launched a project to understand the relationships between property and NFTs. Hirst offered 10,000 NFTs from his collection of famous dot paintings for sale. Buyers had the option to either retain the artwork in NFT form or swap it for the physical work. If the choice was to retain the NFT, then the physical work was burned, and if they chose to swap it for physical artwork then the NFT was destroyed. 5,149 buyers chose the physical work and 4,851 retained the NFT. Hirst stated that this might indicate the steady attachment for physical work over digital art, and that he himself found it tougher to burn the paper as opposed to the NFT.
(Not) Getting back the Guelph Treasure. The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia dismissed a lawsuit filed by the heirs of Nazi-era Jewish art-dealers against a German museum foundation over valuable medieval relics known as Welfenschatz or Guelph Treasure. The heirs state that the Guelph Treasure was sold under duress and at a drastic discount in Nazi-era Frankfurt. 42 of the pieces that were sold ended up in the Museum of Decorative Arts in Berlin. In 2014, a German arbitration commission ruled that the museum had acquired the collection legitimately and did not need to return the artifacts. As a result, the heirs sued the foundation in the United States. The U.S. District Court stated it lacked jurisdiction to hear the lawsuit and granted the foundation’s motion to dismiss the case, barring an appeal by the plaintiffs.