Techdirt: Artist Files Copyright Lawsuit Against The NRA For Showing Public Sculpture in Video

From Mike Masnick at Techdirt

I apologize in advance, but this story is full of frivolous annoying things. Unfortunately, they are frivolous annoying things that hit at the very core intersection of stuff we talk about here on Techdirt: copyright and free expression. Last year, the NRA pushed out a truly ridiculous advertising video, referred to as "The Clenched Fist of Truth" or "The Violence of Lies." It was a stupid video from a stupid organization which served no purpose other than to upset people who hate the NRA. Trolling as advertising. It generated some level of pointless outrage and people went on with their lives. I'm not linking to the video because I don't need to give it any more attention and if you really want to see it, you know how to use the internet.

Now, let's move on to Anish Kapoor, a British sculptor who is also annoying. In the early 2000s, he made a silly sculpture for Chicago's Millenium Park that people from Chicago (and elsewhere) tend to love to mock. It's called The Bean. I mean, officially, it's called "Cloud Gate," but no one calls it that. Even Kapoor now now calls it the Bean.

However, copyright disputes over the Bean go way back. Back in 2005 there was an article about security guards evicting photographers for taking pictures of the popular tourist selfie photo opp, because the city said it had to enforce the copyright of the artist. No, really. They said that. There's been a long, and somewhat ridiculous, debate about the copyright on public sculptures. Many of us believe -- with pretty damn good justification, I'd say -- that if you agree to a commission from a public entity, in which you are creating a sculpture for the government, you should also give up your copyright with it. Barring that, any and all photography of that sculpture in a public place should simply be declared fair use. Unfortunately, courts have disagreed with this -- which is unfortunate.

Over the last year, Kapoor has been particularly up in arms over the fact that the NRA's silly video includes a ridiculous brief clip of the Bean. It appears for less than a second in a montage of clips. But it's there...

Kapoor has been unhappy about this for a while, and earlier this year penned an open letter to the NRA decrying its policies. This is good. This is what free speech allows.

However, this week, he took it a step further and filed a really, really dumb copyright lawsuit against the NRA (first noted by ARTnews).

The filing itself screams out how frivolous it is in repeatedly complaining about the political message of the NRA's video, rather than anything related to the actual copyright related rights at issue.

Read more here