The law could be a breakthrough for old restitution cases, but they remain at the discretion of the museum. 4. Fairey v. Associated Press, No. 09-01123 (S.D.N.Y. 2010) In this case, Shepard Fairey, a famous street artist and brand personality, was sued by the AP for appropriating a photo of Barack Obama used to create the iconic «HOPE» poster for Obama`s presidential campaign. The case has finally been settled, but questions about the limits of fair use continue. 5. Mattel Inc. vs. Walking Mt.
Prods., 353 F.3d 792 (Cir. 9, 2003) A photographer took a series of photos of Barbie dolls called «Food Chain Barbie,» which included the famous doll in a series of poses, sometimes with food and sometimes accompanied by vintage kitchen appliances. Walking Mt. used the photographs to comment on Barbie`s role in creating a culture that objectified women. Mattel was furious and prosecuted for trademark and copyright infringement. Mattel lost. 6. Hoepker v. Krüger, 200 F.
Supp. 2d 340 (2002) A well-known German photographer sued contemporary American artist Barbara Kruger for using a photograph of a woman with a magnifying glass. Kruger cut and enlarged the image, then layered three large red blocks with words that said, «It`s a small world, but not when you need to clean it.» Since the photo was in the public domain in the United States, Kruger won the case. 7. Morris v. Thierry Guetta, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 15556 (C.D. Cal. 2013) In this case, Thierry Guetta, a well-known street and appropriation artist named Mr. Brainwash, appropriated a famous photo of Sid Vicious taken by David Morris.
In this case, a California district court found that appropriation was not transformative enough to warrant the protection of fair use, and Guetta lost. 8. Plesner v. LVMH, Court of The Hague 389526 / KG ZA 11-294, (4 May 2011) In the present case, one of the few international cases concerning artistic appropriation, Nadia Plesner, a Danish artist, was sued in The Hague by the luxury manufacturer Louis Vuitton for taking one of her bags from a painting entitled Darfurnika (Plesner`s modern tribute to Guernica, Picasso`s famous piece). The painting fused political icons and fashion to draw attention to the political situation in Darfur. Plesner won for reasons of freedom of artistic expression. Few art law cases have found their way to the U.S. Supreme Court. Those that are accepted for review by the country`s highest court matter because they determine how historical artifacts are managed, how art is created and funded, and the extent to which art can be censored. The Supreme Court`s jurisdiction extends to the First Amendment, free speech, oversight of Congressional powers under Section 1, Section 8, conflicting decisions of lower courts on copyright-protected matters, and the Foreign Sovereigns Immunity Act («FSIA»), to name a few key issues.
When examining the cases heard by the Court, it is clear that most judgments concern intangible intellectual property rights. Art law cases before the Supreme Court take on unique socio-political dimensions – as art law influences a range of legal issues from freedom of expression to the restitution of works of art. In 2018, millions of dollars and important precedents were on the brink of collapse in a series of major lawsuits – from squabbles over first-rate artworks to cases of restitution of works of art looted by the Nazis to fights over the estates of recently deceased artists. Some of the seven most important cases of the year, broken down below, are ongoing and warrant keeping an eye on in order to get updates in the new year. Others who finished this year will shape the art law landscape into 2019 and beyond. The Supreme Court has legal arguments in relation to Google LLC v. Oracle, October 7, 2020. Although this case is not directly related to art law, an amicus letter in the case highlights the impact this decision could have on art law decisions in the future.  In this case, it is questionable whether copyright can extend to interface software developments, with the jury in the lower instance determining the use of software in the context of a new program as fair use. However, given that fair use is an important concept for artists who want to retain control of their copyright, there is a plea for the court to retain this extended version of fair dealing in software development.  To this end, the Rauschenberg and Warhol Foundations argued amicus, which required that all court statements be limited to fair use for software development and not to the general doctrine of fair use.
 The results of the application of this expanded definition of fair use would have an adverse effect on fair use cases in the context of art.