Destruction of Historic Monuments Deemed a War Crime

The International Criminal Court in The Hague sentenced a man to nine years in prison for destroying historic monuments in the city of Timbuktu.

The man, who said he got swept up in Al Qaeda's "evil wave" and other extremist groups, pleaded guilty to war crimes for ordering the destruction of nine mausoleums and a 15th century mosque in the ancient African city.  It's the first time the Court has heard a case based on the demolition of cultural heritage.

More details are available in the Art Newspaper.

German Parliament Throwing Roadblock in Art Trafficking

The upper house of Germany's Parliament passed a law aimed at stopping the illegal importation and exportation of art and antiquities.  Although the objective is to thwart those who loot antiquities and traffic in them, many reputable German dealers and collectors say this law could have severe ramifications for honest people.

Further details are available from the Art Newspaper.

Court Says: Remastering = Copyright

There's a longstanding issue over the protections afforded sound recordings made before 1972.  That's when the U.S. Congress specifically added sound recordings to the list of works that are eligible for federal copyright.  Previously recorded works have traditionally sought their protections under state laws, and that proved sufficient until now.

In a ruling handed down by a U.S. District Court in California, the judge held that a digitally remastered version of a pre-1972 music recording can qualify for the federal copyright protection so long as the remastered recording involves original creativity that changes the sound in some way.

So those who own the songs should be happy about that, right?  Well, in an interesting twist, the ruling actually works against the original owners.

You see, federal copyright law carves out an explicit exception to the need to pay for songs that are broadcast on a standard, terrestrial radio station.  So, if the music falls under federal rather than state protections, the radio station gets to broadcast it without paying.

The ruling comes out of the case of ABS Entertainment v. CBS.  You can read the court opinion within an article from the Hollywood Reporter.

To Bare or Not To Bare

It's been more than a few years since New York's highest court ruled that women in that state can bare their chests anyplace men are permitted to do so.  However, full nudity is still not something you can get away with in Central Park.  That is, unless it's part of art.

An all-female cast put on a production of Shakespeare's play, The Tempest, and they did it in the park, in broad daylight, and in the nude.  How did they get away with that?  Nudity is permitted in New York if it's an artistic expression, and no one was going to say Shakespeare isn't art. has more info and a pixilated video...for those of you who just can't get too much exposure to the Bard.

A Work in Progress

The Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of African American History and Culture issued a statement saying it will continue its plans to feature an exhibit about Bill Cosby, but it will do so with a reference to the accusations of sexual misconduct that hang over the famed comedian's head.

The museum's plans include a section on Mr. Cosby's role as a television entertainer who had been a part of groundbreaking programs.  Yet, in light of the allegations made by several women and the legal problems that currently plague him, there had been controversy over his inclusion in the museum.

In a statement issued by museum Founding Director Lonnie Bunch, Mr. Bunch said "our interpretation of Bill Cosby is a work in progress."  He further stated that visitors to the museum will learn about Mr. Cosby's impact on American entertainment while also "recognizing that his legacy has been severely damaged by the recent accusations."