Artists, Lawyers, and Specialness

The American Bar Association publication Landslide asked several lawyers to write about aspects of representing clients in the arts. My contribution (below) is in the January-Februrary 2013 issue.

Artists have one thing that many others don’t have: What they do, how they think, and what they create is imbued with creativity and specialness. For example, bankers won’t keep on banking without a payout, but devoted musicians and painters work all the time in basements, garages, and clubs. How do we reconcile this intrinsic specialness with business and law in a highly practical way where money might not always be everything?

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Monetizing Open Source Platforms — Something New?

Sharing software code via free open source has been around since the 1980s and has enjoyed much success. Open source has been applied to content, websites, technological parts, and other materials. Can and should an open source platform be monetized?

On GitHub, anyone with an account can share improvements of existing code by downloading it from public repositories (online storage spaces for code) on that website, modifying this downloaded copy, and submitting his or her modifications to the original owner for approval. If the original owner likes the modification, the originator can combine it with the original code and share this updated version with others, and the modifier will get credit for his or her contribution.

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Can a Photographer Own a Copyright on a Scene in the News and History?

Can a photograph that becomes linked with history or news be protected from imitation? The First Circuit Appeals says that the answer is “no”. The image of Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter, better known as Clark Rockefeller, with his daughter emerging from a Boston church on Palm Sunday became a famous photograph.

The story of the man who in effect abducted his own daughter in violation of divorce terms was a story made for a Lifetime made-for television movie. When Sony Pictures Television produced the program, “Who Is Clark Rockefeller” it reenacted the scene at the church using the actors in the program.

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Olympians Strike Back: What’s News — and What’s Advertising — in the Age of Infotainment and Celebrity?

Celebrity is a currency of great value. TMZ, Entertainment Weekly, E!, and innumerable gossip websites and publications prove the point beyond dispute. A group of Olympians including Mark Spitz, Greg Louganis, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, and Amanda Beard have sued Samsung Corporation for using their image to endorse the company without their consent. So, it’s not uncommon that commercial advertisers want to push the edge of the envelope and find ways of using the names, likenesses, and other indicia of celebrities (without obtaining their permission and without paying them) in order to get the attention of us, the consumers.

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Truth and Beauty in Hollywood – Can an Actress Keep Her Real Age Private?

It’s not easy being a movie actress over the age of 40, says an actress. Huong Hoang (known also as Junie Hoang) signed up for an iMDb Pro account and didn’t want to disclose her real age. It is said that beauty creates its own rules of conduct; perhaps in Hollywood so does age.

It’s true that just about everyone in the movie and TV industries uses iMDb as a resource. IMDb found out her correct age, and it included that information in her publicly available website data.

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Resale of Event Tickets: Change the Laws or Let the Marketplace Rule?

What should the law do about resale of tickets for concerts, sporting events, and theatrical shows? The recent 12-12-12 concert for which tickets were on the resale market for prices reported to be up to $60,000 brought this long-time question to the forefront.

Because the proceeds of ticket sales for the 12-12-12 concert were going to benefit Hurricane Sandy relief efforts, the huge price markups struck many as wrong because so much money went to the resellers rather than to the charity. Others say the event organizers should have charged more for the event tickets.

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