Otto v. Hearst Communications, Inc., No. 1:17-cv-04712 (S.D.N.Y. Dec. 10, 2018). A case over a photo misused by several media sources to headline stories about US President Donald Trump highlights how Copyright law extends to amateur photographers, such as Jonathan Otto in this case. The Southern District allowed Otto to claim originality in his work, and found that Esquire.com’s use of the 2017 photo of Trump at a private wedding in an article about him crashing the wedding was not fair use. Order available upon request.
His All Holiness, Bartholomew I, The Archbishop of Constantinople, Newrome, and Ecumenical Patriarch et al., v. Princeton University, No. 3:18-cv-17195 (D.N.J. filed on Dec. 13, 2018). Princeton University’s collection includes Byzantine Era Manuscripts that church leaders argued were stolen from a monastery in Greece during World War I. Evidence put forth by the church leaders includes a Princeton published book stating that the manuscripts had been taken by Bulgarian guerrilla forces in 1917, while Princeton remains confident in their provenance research as evidence that the manuscripts were not looted. Complaint available upon request.
Cenedella v. Metropolitan Museum of Art et al., No. 1:18-cv-01029 (S.D.N.Y. Dec. 19, 2018). Artist Robert Cenedella’s suit against five major New York museums was dismissed for insufficient evidence. He was claiming that the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, and the New Museum were conspiring to exclude him and other deserving artists from their collections and exhibition programs, for not being represented by major galleries. Order available upon request.
U.S. v. One Painting Entitled “Secret Departure of Ivan the Terrible Before the Oprichina”, No. 1:18-cv-03015 (D.D.C. filed Dec. 20, 2018). The U.S. Attorney filed a notice of forfeiture of an oil painting entitled “Secret Departure of Ivan the Terrible Before the Oprichina” by Russian artist Mikhail N. Panin. The piece hung on the walls of the Connecticut home of Holocaust survivor Gabby Tracy; it was sent for auction in 2017 before research revealed that it had been looted from the Dnepropetrovsk Art Museum in Ukraine during WWII. The government seized the painting right before the auction, which was not contested by the Tracys. The Notice functions as a way to make sure no one else claims ownership before the FBI gives the painting back to Ukraine. Complaint available here.
Schmitt v. Artforum Int’l Magazine, Inc., 2018 Slip Op 33345(U) (N.Y. Sup. Dec. 20, 2018). The New York Supreme Court has dismissed Amanda Schmitt’s retaliation claim against her former employer and publisher of Artforum Magazine, Knight Landesman. Schmitt claimed that Landesman had harassed her and other women while working at Artforum. However, the statute of limitations on workplace sexual misconduct had expired. Therefore, Schmitt proceeded under a retaliation claim. Judge Nervo dismissed the case finding that the five-year gap between Schmitt’s employment at Artforum to the confrontation in question had removed the requisite nexus to sustain her claim.
Close v. Sotheby’s, No. 16-56234 (9th Cir. 2018). The panel of 9th Circuit judges held that claims under the California Resale Royalty Act (CRRA) were preempted by the Federal Copyrights Act 1976. Interestingly, the panel awarded Defendants attorney’s fees under the CRRA on December 3rd; despite holding that the Act was expressly preempted. Read our case review here; Order available here.