Copyright and Appropriation Art: Recent Legal Controversies

Obama Hope poster

May 10, 2011 - 12:00pm to 1:30pm

Harris School of Public Policy Studies
1155 E. 60th St.
Room 224

Presented by William Landes, Clifton R. Musser Professor Emeritus of Law and Economics at the University of Chicago, and Anthony Hirschel, Dana Feitler Director at the Smart Museum of Art

The talk will discuss recent legal cases involving visual artists (including Jeff Koons, Richard Prince and Shepard Fairey) who incorporate copyrighted materials (often photographs) into their works without authorization from the copyright owner. Typically, the defendant in these cases claims his borrowing is a fair use and, therefore, does not violate copyright law. Courts, however, have been unsympathetic to the artist's position. Landes and Hirschel will discuss the "economic" arguments for fair use and how the law employs economic considerations to distinguish between permissible and impermissible borrowing of copyrighted material in the case of appropriation art.

Anthony Hirschel has served as the Dana Feitler Director of the Smart Museum of Art at the University of Chicago since 2005. Trained as an historian of the art of the late Middle Ages and early Renaissance first at the University of Michigan (B.A. in History and Art History, 1979) and then at Yale (M.A. in Art History, 1981; M.Phil in Art History, 1982) he has been active in art museum administration for over twenty years, seventeen of them as a museum director. He has also taught at Yale, Randolph-Macon Women’s College in Lynchburg, Virginia and, currently, at the University of Chicago Law School. Among other professional affiliations, Hirschel is a member (and former Board member) of the Association of Art Museum Directors and is a Board member of the American Federation of Arts.

William Landes joined the faculty of the Law School in 1974 and was the Clifton R. Musser Professor of Law and Economics in the Law School from 1992 to 2009. Prof. Landes has written widely on the application of economics and quantitative methods to law and legal institutions, including torts, intellectual property, judicial behavior, legal decision-making, and art law. His most recent book, The Economic Structure of Intellectual Property Law (2003) with Judge Richard Posner (Senior Lecturer at the Law School), applies economic analysis to the many legal doctrines in trademark, copyright, trade secret, and patent law. Prof. Landes has been an editor of the Journal of Law and Economics (1975–1991) and the Journal of Legal Studies (1991–2000), is past president of the American Law and Economics Association, and is a member of the American Economic Association, the Mont Pelerin Society, and the Council of Economic Advisers of the American Enterprise Institute. He is also a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.