Saturday, November 18, 2017

Trinity Church VARA Suit Dismissed

The VARA lawsuit over the removal of a sculpture from Trinity Church in Manhattan has been dismissed. Story here.  Decision here.  I said when the case was filed that VARA claims relating to the removal of site-specific work have not fared well.  Add this one to the list:  the Court says "simply relocating The Trinity Root does not by itself constitute distortion, mutilation or modification under VARA."

In this case, the artist had the additional difficulty that he signed a contact transferring to the Church "all right, title, and interest to the Sculpture ..., including but not limited to the copyright therein, ... in perpetuity throughout the universe, for use in any manner ....  In the event of any termination of this Agreement, Trinity will own the Sculpture, in whatever degree of completion ..., and Trinity will have the right to complete, exhibit and sell the Sculpture if it so chooses. ... [The artist] understands that Trinity has not promised the public exhibition of the Sculpture, and that Trinity may loan the Sculpture to third parties as Trinity deems appropriate" (emphasis in the original).