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NRA “clintched fist of truth” & Copyright Infringment

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Posted on August 09 2018

 

NRA meet

Chicago’s Cloud Gate aka “the Bean” Copyright 

 

For those who live or visit Chicago I’m certain you’ve made your way to Anish Kapoor’s “the bean”, it’s a landmark and in my opinion the simplicity of this piece of art is what makes it beautiful.

For the record, until I started my research on this entry, I did not know who the artist was or what his inspiration for his work. The more I started researching the more I realized that Anish Kapoor is a thoughtful and skilled artist. With that said I can not nor will I try to do even try to articulate Mr Kapoor’s “the bean”, this 2017 video from the Chicago Sun-Times is worth watching, Mr Kapoor explains his inspiration and vision for this artistic landmark; “The Bean” which quickly became a Pop Culture Icon and in my opinion sets the benchmark for Municipalities that commission “art work”

Anish Kapoor’s Cloud Gate

aka “the bean”...

 

 

So if you’ve spent your life dedication to sharing your talent and love of art. Can you imagine seeing your “work” being featured in a NRA TV commercial? Unfortunately that’s exactly what happened to Mr. Kapoor.

In 2017 the NRA published their TV Ad “Clintched Fist of Truth”, at no time did the NRA seek or received permission from the rightful Copyright holder of “the bean”...personally speaking this NRA Ad is just vile. It’s clear what the NRA’s intent was and is. Notwithstanding the NRA used an image that does not belong to them...the NRA subsequently used “the bean” in at least two other videos, found here.

 

Shortly after the NRA released these videos, of which featured Mr. Anish Kapoor “Cloud Gate”, colloquially known by the public as “the bean”, he wrote the following Open Letter...you can read Mr Kapoor’s letter here.

 

Cloud Gate reflects the space around it, the city of Chicago. People visit the sculpture to get married, to meet friends, to take selfies, to dance, to jump, to engage in communal experience. Its mirrored form is engulfing and intimate. It gathers the viewer into itself. This experience, judging by the number of people that visit it every day (two-hundred million to date), still seems to carry the potential to communicate a sense of wonder. A mirror of self and other, both private and collective, Cloud Gate—or the ‘Bean’ as it often affectionately referred to—is an inclusive work that engages public participation. Its success has little to do with me, but rather with the thousands of residents and visitors who have adopted it and embraced it as their ‘Bean’. Cloud Gate has become a democratic object in a space that is free and open to all.

 

The closing sentence in Mr. Kapoor’s Open Letter pretty much sums it up:

Art must stand clear in its mission to recognise the dignity and humanity of all, irrespective of creed or racial origin.”

 

Unsurprisingly the NRA never responded nor did they remove Mr Kapoor’s artwork form their various videos. So what’s an artist to do, who just happenes to also hold a copyright on his artwork? You betcha he filed suit.

Case: 1:18-cv-04252

Filed: 06/26/18

 

Mr. Kapoor’s suit states:

NRA never asked Plaintiff for permission to use CLOUD GATE (“the Work”), and Plaintiff never granted it – and never would have granted it. After the video was made public, Plaintiff demanded that NRA remove the Work from the video, but NRA refused. Accordingly, Plaintiff brings this action for copyright infringement against NRA.

 

The Complaint goes on to state (as lawsuits go this one is pretty cut and dry, the NRA never sought or received approval from the Artist, who holds a Copyright of Cloud Gate affectionately known as “the Bean”):

 

On June 29, 2017, NRA broadcast on television and the internet a video recruiting advertisement entitled variously “The Clenched Fist of Truth” or “The Violence of Lies”, denouncing the media and the “liberal agenda.” It warns of civil unrest and violence, and states that the only way to save “our” country from the ‘lies” of the liberal media and the “liberal agenda” is with the “clenched fist of truth,” i.e., with guns (obviously referencing NRA’s previous slogan by Charlton Heston that “I'll give you my gun when you pry it from my cold, dead hands.”) It is a clear call to armed violence against liberals and the media.

When it comes to Copyright Right and Copyright Infringement the Law is rather clear as are the “claims of relief and/or remedy”, see 17 U.S.C. § 101 et seq, found here. There is no confusion Mr Kapoor is the rightful copyright owner and thus he has “exclusive rights” to his Copyright, as such he had no other recourse than to file suit against the NRA after they refused to remove his “art work” from their advertisement. As further explained in pages 

 

Plaintiff registered CLOUD GATE with the U.S. Copyright Office, with the registration number VA 1-983-425. Plaintiff is the sole owner of all right, title and interest in and to the copyright. CLOUD GATE has been published or otherwise exploited by Plaintiff, or by others under Plaintiff’s authority or license, in conformity with the Act.

At no time has Plaintiff authorized Defendant to reproduce, distribute, perform, create derivative works based on, or otherwise exploit all or any portion of CLOUD GATE.

Defendant infringed plaintiff’s copyright in CLOUD GATE by, inter alia, filming or videotaping it, making internal copies, incorporating it into its video “The Clenched Fist of Truth,” alternately titled “The Violence of Lies” (hereinafter, the “Infringing Video”), and distributing and displaying it to the public on television and through the internet. (emphasis added)

 

As previously mentioned this is a pretty cut and dry case. The NRA could simply remove the images yet they have opted to engage in an infringement and in fact has profited off of that infringement by asking current and potential members to pay the NRA membership dues. Accordingly Mr Kapoor by Law is entitled to a minimum of $150,000 in statory damages:

 

 

Defendant continued and continues to display the Infringing Video. Plaintiff is therefore entitled to statutory damages for willful infringement in the amount of $150,000 per infringement, the number of infringements to be determined according to proof at trial.

 You can read Mr Kapoor’s full Complaint here. See proof of Copyright ownership below:

 

To wit the NRA requested (and granted) a delay their response to Mr. Kapoor’s Complaint is due a week from yesterday, as in August 15, 2018. See NRA’s motion for extension of time to respond to the complaint found here.

 

 

 

So now we wait...it should not be lost on you that the NRA could have simply removed the copyrighted material and offered a contrite apology to Mr. Kapoor for Infringing on his lawful copyright but instead the NRA did what the NRA always does, doubles down and acts like they didn’t do anything untoward. La Sigh.

On a lighter note I have a new found and arguably profound appreciation for Anish Kapoor and his body of work. There’s a simplicity yet exquisiteness to his work. The Lisson Gallery has a robust portfolio of his work, should you be inclined you can view Mr. Kapoor’s artwork via their gallery, found here.

 

And on a much lighter and possibly super snarky note I swear to you every time I think I’m having a bad day, I simply watch the following Beet-Juice infomercial and then balance is restored to my universe. 

 

 

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