Archive for July, 2009

Now, a Copyright Triangle: Photographer Seeks to Intervene in Fairey-AP Lawsuit

July 15, 2009

Mannie Garcia, the AP photographer who created the image of Barack Obama that eventually resulted in Shepard Fairey’s “Hope” poster, is now asserting his ownership of the copyright in court. Garcia filed a Memorandum of Law supporting a Motion to Intervene in the action between AP and Fairey last week.

Typically, when a work is created in a regular employment situation, the copyright of the work produced at the behest of the employer is owned by that employer.  There are some exceptions to this, depending upon the conditions of the employment.  There may be a contract involved where the photographer, whether as a regular employee or as an independent contractor, gives up all rights to the images created. Garcia has said that he did not make such an assignment of his rights to AP.

In last week’s court filing, Garcia appears to assert that the image was not work made for hire because he was neither a regular employee nor an independent contractor (the later presumably based upon the absence of a contract).

The Garcia memorandum does not directly state a position opposed to that of Fairey’s fair-use argument.  It does, however, reference the profits gained by Fairey in exploiting the image.  This represents a bit of contrast by Garcia, who in earlier days appeared to appreciate Fairey’s use of the image he created, reportedly stating that he was happy about the use.  However, even in his statements of February 2009, Garcia asserted that he was the owner of the copyright.

Copies of the image in question have been sold in a limited edition by a New York art gallery, which may present another conflict over the copyrights, depending upon who the owner is ultimately determined to be.  Garcia registered the copyright of the Obama image, as a prerequisite to a lawsuit, with a filing date of March 17, 2009.

More Resources/References:

Boies Schiller in for Shooter as “Hope” Poster Case Takes New Twist (includes a link to Garcia’s court filing) AmLaw Daily.

Related:  [Art]work for Hire (explained in more detail)

Concept Lost: Tokyo Capsule Building to Be Demolished

July 7, 2009

The landmark Nakagin Capsule Tower is on the block for destruction. The iconic Tokyo structure, perhaps the first building designed with “green” in mind, has been slated to be torn down for some years and the date for demolition is apparently nearing.


The building, despite is relatively recent construction, marks an important point in the course of modern culture and architectural theory. It can also be considered as a physical commentary on the function (and size of) Tokyo living spaces.

The building was constructed in the early 1970s by Kisho Kurokawa and consists of two core structures with pre-fab living modules that were intended to be replaced over time, updating the structure and allow for reconfiguration. Kurokawa said that his intent was to design the building as “an example of sustainable architecture” and intended for it to last 200 years.  However, no reconfiguration or replacement was ever accomplished.

Over the past decades the building has fallen into disrepair and concerns about asbestos have been raised by residents.  Kurokawa linked the maintenance problem to the ownership of the building and the fact that the 140 people presently living there are not the original residents.  He postulated that the newer residents, perhaps, have less attachment to the original concept of the building and so, do not have such a desire to preserve it. Prior to Kurokawa’s death in 2007, he had hoped to gain personal ownership of the building.

In the NY Times, Nicolai Ouroussoff describes the apparently imminent loss of the Nakagin Towers as based in a kind of bureauocratic apathy which places property rights above cultural and historic importance.  And, he says, with such destructions as this, “the cultural loss will be tremendous.”

Future Vision Banished to the Past/Nicolai Ouroussoff

2007 interview with architect Kisho Kurokawa / Tokyo Art Beat

Companion video of interview/youtube

Kurokawa’s Capsule Tower to Be Razed/Architectural Record(2007)