Norwegian Museums Need to Munch on Security

What is it about the paintings of Edvard Munch that makes them regular targets of art thieves? And, perhaps more importantly, why do these thieves repeatedly manage to successfully steal the Norwegian master's work from the museums that house them?

It made news a few years ago when Munch's classic works, "The Scream" and "Madonna", were pilfered in broad daylight from the Munch museum in Oslo. And that wasn't the first time "The Scream" was stolen, either. Okay, the paintings were eventually recovered. But c'mon! You'd think security would have clamped down pretty tight after the first attempt.

Apparently not tight enough. This past week another Munch was stolen. This time it's a lithograph titled "History." It was stolen when thieves broke a gallery window and just snatched it.

Maybe this is why Munch's most famous work is of a figure who just stands there screaming.

Playboy Sues Former "Lawyer of Love" over Trademark

Corri Fetman isn't your typical straight-laced, button-down lawyer. In fact she gained substantial notoriety when she unlaced and unbuttoned to pose nude for Playboy magazine, a publication in which she also used to write a legal advice colum titled "Lawyer of Love."

Well, now she's got a legal issue of her own to deal with. Playboy is suing the Chicago-based divorce lawyer over the "Lawyer of Love" trademark.

According to a Chicago Tribune blog, Fetman attempted to register the "Lawyer of Love" name with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Playboy says it owns the intellectual property rights to that title and Ms. Fetman is just trying to capitalize on the Playboy name.

According to the blog, Ms. Fetman was a freelance writer when she wrote her column for Playboy. Freelancers, like other independent contractors, have different intellectual property laws that apply to them as compared to employees of a company. Who owns "Lawyer of Love" may come down to an analysis of both contract language and other matters.

Leaving It to the Arts

The New York Times reports that a recently deceased woman in Scotland has left the Metropolitan Opera in New York $7.5 million dollars in her will. Mona Webster was apparently a great fan of opera and especially impressed with the Met. (According to the story, she left only $167,000 to the U.K.'s Royal Opera Trust.)

Most of us aren't in a position to be as generous as Ms. Webster was. However, everyone should have a will or a living trust, or both, to set out how her or his worldly possessions will be distributed after death. Leaving some portion to an arts-related entity is no more complicated than leaving it to anyone else, and arts patrons should know that's an option.

One caution though...Cash gifts will likely always be welcomed. Gifts of other sorts (such as art collections) may not always be something an arts entity can absorb into its own collection. If such gifts are refused by the intended beneficiary, the property would then likely pass to someone other than whom you intended to receive it. So, if you're planning to leave something other than cash to the arts, the smart move is to first contact that entity to make certain the gift will be accepted.

EU Says: Proof Before Punishment for Illegal Downloading

The Associated Press reports that the European Union has taken a big step in the direction of expanding Internet rights for the consumers of intellectual properties such as music and videos. The tentative agreement would prevent arbitrary takedowns and cut-offs based on allegations of copyright infringement.

Under the agreement, governments could only resort to those measures if they have proof that someone is using the web site for the purpose of illegally downloading copyright protected material. In other words, it's a "due process" requirement.

The EU Parliament and its member governments still need to approve the bill before it will become official.

The entertainment industry has been lobbying hard for years to have governments crack down on illegal Internet file sharing. Unauthorized downloading of music, films, and other intellectual properties has put a serious crimp in the industry's profits. The EU bill wouldn't halt crackdowns, but it would require more than just an accusation to have the plug pulled on an Internet user.

Queen's Composer Pleased to See His Manager Jailed

Okay, there are probably more than a few people in the arts and entertainment industry who wouldn't shed a team if their manager or agent got tossed in the pokey. Well, it's happened in the United Kingdom, and it's making news. The Times of London reports of the jailing of the manager of the man who holds the official title of Master of the Queen's Music.

Sir Peter Maxwell Davies holds the distinguished title. His long-time manager, Michael Arnold, was sentenced to 18 months for defrauding Davies of about a half-million pounds.

According to the Times, Davies is pleased...and even contemplating writing a song about it.

Hmmm...How about "Jailhouse Rock"?