Our cautious scepticism about intellectual property laws, particularly when applied to the arts rather than technology, was confirmed this morning.
The guy who made the iconic Wall Street bull is suing the publisher and authors of a new book about the collapse of Lehman Brothers because they put a picture of the bull on the cover.
That’s right. There’s a guy out there who thinks he owns the rights to images of 7,000-pound sculpture that has been sitting in the financial district for 20 years. Whatever your opinions about the need for copyright and trademark rules to encourage innovation and reward creativity, it’s really hard to see how this makes any sense at all.
Way back in 1989, artist Arturo Di Modica deposited the sculpture in front of the New York Stock Exchange unannounced and uninvited. He said the point was to provide enoucragement to people and businesses following the 1987 stock market crash. It was then moved to a “temporary” location at Bowling Green, where it has sat ever since.
Yesterday Di Modica filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, alleging that “A Colossal Failure of Common Sense: The Inside Story of the Collapse of Lehman Brothers,” uses an unauthorised image of the bull on its dust jacket.
Hopefully the court tells Di Modica that his case might as well have emerged from the rear end of the bull.
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