Sculptor Says 'Capitalism' Drives His Aggressive Enforcement Of Rights To Publicly-Funded 'Portlandia' Statue

from the cognitive-dissonance-much? dept

Portland is home to the second-largest "hammered-copper statue" in the nation. Only the Statue of Liberty has it beat. It was commissioned by the city of Portland and is placed prominently downtown. But, unlike the Statue of Liberty, you won't find the "Portlandia" statue gracing a variety of third-party goods.

You would think the image of Portlandia would adorn postcards, photos and T-shirts. She doesn’t. That’s because her maker, Washington, D.C.-based sculptor Raymond Kaskey, has, over the past three decades, often threatened to sue those who dare use photos or illustrations of Portlandia for commercial purposes.
Kaskey fiercely protects his creation. He sued the makers of "Body of Evidence," resulting in a small settlement and removal of background footage containing his work. He also battled with a brewery which mistakenly thought the publicly-commissioned statue standing on public land was public domain. This mistake was quickly corrected.
Later informed that Kaskey aggressively protects his copyright—which won't expire for 70 years after the septuagenarian Pittsburgh native dies—Laurelwood owner Mike DeKalb decided to contact him about securing the rights before this year's labels were printed.

That negotiation was successful, though both parties declined to disclose the fee paid.
Kaskey has one motivation for this aggressive pursuit of commericial use.
"To make some money—that's the single best reason," Kaskey said. "It's called capitalism."
All well and good, I suppose, but Kaskey's motivation flies in the face of the more socialist origin of his well-defended work.
Kaskey… was paid $228,000 in public funds and reportedly another $100,000 in private donations to create Portlandia.
All this public money to create statue at the behest of public representatives which now resides on public land -- and yet, "Portlandia's" ownership lies solely in the hands of Raymond Kaskey, thanks to a 30-year-old city policy that allows artists to retain ownership on publicly-funded work. Kaskey (obviously) thinks the policy is a good idea.
“It was a forward-thinking decision, Not many cities respected artists’ rights in those days."
I think when a city gives you $228,000 to create artwork, it has given you enough "respect." Kaskey still demands more, though. While he doesn't seem interested in the thousands of amateur photographs circulating publicly, he definitely seems to be on top of it should any potential commercial uses present themselves.

An artist selling $6 brooches loosely based on the statue has also dealt with Kaskey, who only asked for a license fee if she managed to sell ten of them. So far, she hasn't sold any -- something at least partly due to Kaskey's aggressive protection of the work.
[The artist] has had to explain what the statue is to friends to whom she’s gifted them.

“In a way, it’s nice that the Portlandia image isn’t overused and used on tacky souvenirs,” Yerby says, “but it is kind of sad no one can recognize her.”
Kaskey own website claims his studio has produced a "a prominent body of public work," but when it's locked up for 70 years past his death, it's hardly "public."

Filed Under: capitalism, copyright, culture, portlandia, public funds, raymond kaskey, statue


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  • identicon
    Michael, 12 Sep 2014 @ 10:29am

    He's lucky he isn't in CT or the scrap metal guys around here would have cut that thing up years ago.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      John Fenderson (profile), 13 Sep 2014 @ 11:41am

      Re:

      That may well end up being it's fate. The statue itself is not popular, and the building it's attached to has so many structural issues that it is very likely to be demolished.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        nasch (profile), 15 Sep 2014 @ 8:05am

        Re: Re:

        That may well end up being it's fate. The statue itself is not popular, and the building it's attached to has so many structural issues that it is very likely to be demolished.

        If he had let its image be more widely used maybe it would be popular and beloved and there would be a movement to protect it.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Sep 2014 @ 10:38am

    Copyright: The right to do something once and get paid for it for the rest of your life.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Sep 2014 @ 10:40am

    the ideal artist for gravestones of people you want the world to forget..

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Sep 2014 @ 10:42am

    This the truest depiction of the US ever One side has our lady Liberty the other side the thought of liberty but locked up and imprisoned , polarization of a once great Nation.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Roger Strong (profile), 12 Sep 2014 @ 12:45pm

      Re:

      I don't claim to understand American traditions, but...

      second-largest "hammered-copper statue"

      ...it seems appropriate that a drunken officer statue would be locked up.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Trevor, 12 Sep 2014 @ 10:52am

    His aggressive copyright enforcement is really working for him!

    Before this post, I had never heard of this statue!

    Way to make that money!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Sep 2014 @ 10:57am

    I can't recall ever seeing it.
    The city should melt it down and sell off the metals to pay for the publicly funded portion.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Sep 2014 @ 11:02am

    Copyright : Work for Hire?

    Would not this fall under a work for hire? Thus would not the city then own the copyright to the work? Would this then make for a strong argument for it to be public domain?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 12 Sep 2014 @ 11:19am

      Re: Copyright : Work for Hire?

      It should, but Portland has, according to the article, "a 30-year-old city policy that allows artists to retain ownership on publicly-funded work."

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Digger, 12 Sep 2014 @ 12:40pm

        Re: Re: Copyright : Work for Hire?

        Policy or law? If it's not a law, then it doesn't apply.

        Only laws can override federal copyright laws.

        Thanks for playing.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Chris-Mouse (profile), 12 Sep 2014 @ 1:18pm

          Re: Re: Re: Copyright : Work for Hire?

          Copyright law still applies. Back when the statue was commisioned, the city had the option of adding a clause to the contract that would turn the copyright over to the city. The city chose not to do this, so the artist keeps the copyright.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 12 Sep 2014 @ 1:59pm

          Re: Re: Re: Copyright : Work for Hire?

          The commission contract can include a clause where the city waives their right, allowing the artist to retain it instead.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Sep 2014 @ 11:23am

    I'd hire a contractor to build walls around it ,then add an inscription This is how art looks when its locked away and copyrighted .

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      DogBreath, 12 Sep 2014 @ 3:16pm

      Re:

      Add a top and a bottom and call it, "The Tomb of the Unknown Art".

      Place another inscription on it saying, "Do Not Open Until 70 years after Raymond Kaskey's death, unless Disney has the Copyright Extension Act extended again. If so, please take this entire Tomb and drop it into the Mariana Trench, where it can enjoy copyright for all eternity (minus a day, of course)."

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Sep 2014 @ 11:27am

    30-year-old city policy that allows artists to retain ownership on publicly-funded work

    So...who maintains the thing, if he owns it? I rather wouldn't expect to see him out there with a scrub brush and bucket shooing the pigeons away. I recknon he probably owes the city some maintainance fees. Say, around $228,000 ?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      TruthHurts, 12 Sep 2014 @ 1:22pm

      Re: 30-year-old city policy that allows artists to retain ownership on publicly-funded work

      Send him the bill for all the maintenance work done since it was built.

      Let him know he can either pay the bill or turn over the copyright.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Sep 2014 @ 11:34am

    "To make some money—that's the single best reason," Kaskey said. "It's called capitalism."

    Oh. Well, as long as it’s not called “art”.

    And in any case, it sounds like you already made some money off of it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Chris ODonnell (profile), 12 Sep 2014 @ 11:48am

    Can government do that with publicly funded stuff? I know the law exists, but has it ever been tested in court?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Grey (profile), 12 Sep 2014 @ 11:55am

    As a 5th generation Oregonian and Portland native, I saw her being installed as a kid, She's at 1120 SW 5th, tucked away in the shadows of what passes for skyscrapers here.

    Copyright it's a beautiful statue even though she looks like she's rolling dice.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Grey (profile), 12 Sep 2014 @ 11:55am

    As a 5th generation Oregonian and Portland native, I saw her being installed as a kid, She's at 1120 SW 5th, tucked away in the shadows of what passes for skyscrapers here.

    Copyright aside. it's a beautiful statue even though she looks like she's rolling dice.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 12 Sep 2014 @ 2:03pm

      Re:

      Fortunately for the Portland public, other statues are more noticeable and able to be depicted in commercial works without fear of lawsuits or settlements, such as the Allow Me statue of the man hailing the cab, the Elk fountain, or the amusingly atrocious Paul Bunyan folly in Kenton.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Digger, 12 Sep 2014 @ 12:32pm

    Ah well, goodbye Kaskey

    Someone's going to decide to accelerate that clock if you don't turn it over to public domain.

    You might want to think about that you revolting fucktard.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 12 Sep 2014 @ 4:51pm

    A fair and balanced use of the law indeed

    So the public pays for it, heavily, pays for the land it's sitting on, only to be told 'Nope, you don't own it, the artist still does and you still won't own it until almost a century after he's dead.'

    Either someone's palms were greased when they left out the transfer of rights for a publicly funded work, or they were just too stupid to remember that part.

    In either case I think they should just give him what he obviously wants, and put up a wall around the thing, perhaps with a gate you can pay to enter and view it, so finally no-one will be able to see it without paying him. As an added bonus, if it's out of view, no need to pay for maintenance on it, if he wants the statue kept in shape, he can spend his own money, since he's already scammed the public out of enough already.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    peter, 14 Sep 2014 @ 5:55am

    Who? What?

    Portlandia....never heard of it.

    And isn't that kinda the point?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Sep 2014 @ 8:50pm

    he should be a congressman with that sort of logic

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Sep 2014 @ 3:49am

    All is fair in copyright and law

    You know what, as an artist, I support this guy. After all, he's not charging people for taking pictures or looking at it, as it's intended purpose, only for commercial use.

    You wouldn't expect a music artist just to roll over and let anyone use their songs in a commercial sense without payment, exactly the same concept.

    Now, I disagree on the fact that public funds were used to commission it, but that's the fault of the cities governing body, not the artist. Though, the man could use a little more tact.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      nasch (profile), 15 Sep 2014 @ 9:59am

      Re: All is fair in copyright and law

      Now, I disagree on the fact that public funds were used to commission it, but that's the fault of the cities governing body, not the artist.

      You disagree with public funds being used to create art, or you disagree with vigorous copyright defense of publicly-funded art?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      John Fenderson (profile), 15 Sep 2014 @ 10:33am

      Re: All is fair in copyright and law

      While it's true that the city was crazy to agree to such terms and is ultimately the one at faults, it's also true that the artist, regardless of the solidity of his legal position, is being a huge dick about the whole thing.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 19 Sep 2014 @ 8:46am

        Re: Re: All is fair in copyright and law

        As I said, he's not exactly tactful, but other than him being dis-likable on a personal level, I don't think the fact that he wants to be paid for other people using his work to make money is being a dick.

        @Nasch I disagree with public funds being used to pay for art, yes. I know I'd be pissed if I knew any of my taxes were being used to pay for a statue no-one asked for, as oppose to road maintenance and such.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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