20 June 2018Copyright

Sculptor Anish Kapoor accuses NRA of copyright infringement

British sculptor Anish Kapoor has filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against the US National Rifle Association (NRA) after it featured one of his sculptures in a video which, he claimed, calls for “armed violence”.

Kapoor filed the complaint at the US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division yesterday, June 19.

Kapoor, who the suit described as a “renowned” sculptor, was awarded a knighthood in 2013 by Queen Elizabeth II in recognition of his services to the visual arts. His awards also include the Turner Prize.

Between 1999 and 2005, Kapoor constructed a sculpture called “ Cloud Gate” out of stainless steel plates. The sculpture is nicknamed ‘The Bean’ because of its shape and has been the centrepiece of the AT&T Plaza at Millennium Park in the Loop community area of Chicago, Illinois since 2006.

Kapoor said he registered “Cloud Gate” with the US Copyright Office in 2016 (number VA 1-983-425) and is the sole owner of the copyright.

The suit alleged that in June 2017, the NRA published a “controversial video advertisement” which included an image of “Cloud Gate”. The NRA, which advocates for gun rights, describes itself as “America’s longest-standing civil rights organisation”, and now has more than five million members.

Kapoor said the video “warns of civil unrest and violence” and is a “clear call to armed violence against liberals and the media”.

A black and white image of “Cloud Gate” is shown in its entirety at or around the 17 second mark of the video, the complaint said. The video concludes by inviting viewers to join the NRA.

Kapoor quoted a Washington Post article which said the advert was “designed to provoke fear, if not incite violence”. He was “shocked and outraged to learn that his sculpture had been used by the NRA to support its despicable platform of promoting violence”, the claim said.

The NRA did not ask for permission to use “Cloud Gate” and, regardless, Kapoor said he never would have granted it. According to the suit, Kapoor demanded that the NRA remove his work from the video, but his request was refused. The sculptor has suffered damage as a result of the infringement, the claim added.

Further, the complaint said that “but for its infringement”, the NRA has obtained profits it would not have otherwise realised, in the form of increased membership fees following the publication of the video. Kapoor is entitled to disgorgement of these profits, the suit argued.

Kapoor has asked for statutory damages for wilful infringement in the amount of $150,000 per infringement. He said the number of infringements should be determined at trial, and has also asked for pre and post-judgment interest and compensatory damages.

Finally, he requested injunctive relief to prevent the NRA from continuing to “exploit” the famous sculpture.

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More on this story

11 December 2018   British sculptor Anish Kapoor has said he is “pleased to declare victory” over the US National Rifle Association in a copyright dispute centring on one of his works.