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Wojnarowicz v. American Family Ass'n, 745 F. Supp. 130 (1990) p.544


State protection of moral rights


Alleged infringer made a phamphlet in which he took 14 fragments of the plaintiff's work in which the defendant thought were indecent to Christian values. The alterations were the croppings, emphasizing sexual inmages, while demphasizing the artistic elements of the artist's work. There was testimony to theoretical damage and actual damage.


Whether the images were altered in such a way as to cause damage to the artist's reputation.


Unfaithful reproductions activate the protection of the statute if publicly displayed so as to damage the reputation of the author of the original.


The Court concludes that plaintiff is entitled to judgment for defendants' violation of the New York's Authorship Rights Act.


Actual damage: no evidence was offered. This court rejects defendants' claim that the reproduction and publication of minor, unrepresentative segments of larger works, printed wholly without context, does not constitute an alteration, defacement, mutilation, or modification of plaintiff's artwork. Museums unfamiliar with plaintiff's work, believing the pamphlet to be representative of his work, may fail to review his work, even though many of plaintiff's art works do not contain sexual images. The pictures were reproductions of parts of the art, which did not show the all of the art. The pamphlet, however, was representing the fragments of the art as the original, entire work. The court believes it just to require defendants to distribute a corrective communication to all those to whom they sent the original pamphlet. Could not prove there was actual damage so nominal damages in the amount of $1.00 was awarded.


Although this is an infringment, it is one that would be subject to the fair use doctrine (more on this next week).

Created on: Thursday, October 14, 1999 at 19:10:44 (PDT)

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