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.”