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"?

Keeping Abreast of the News

A TV station here in the Washington, D.C., area has been making national headlines by taking the "mal" out of "wardrobe malfunction." I'm talking about WJLA-TV's breast cancer awareness report it dubbed "Touch of Life"—news story broadcasts that featured women's bare breasts without pixilation, black bars, or other means of obscuring the body parts that typically get the FCC in an uproar. It's a first for Washington broadcast television...if you don't count Janet Jackson's Superbowl halftime show.

WJLA has answered its critics by saying this is not simply a ratings stunt but, rather, it did this because breast self-examination is a vitally important, life-saving piece of information that all women need to know. I can't argue with that. But wasn't it also a vitally important piece of information before the autumn sweeps ratings period began?

Be that as it may, so far I've heard nothing from the FCC about this breast baring broadcast, despite the agency's supposed crackdowns on such things in recent years.

A Big Blow to Fairey's Case

Shepard Fairey, the artist who got embroiled in a lawsuit with the Associated Press over his artistic modification of an A.P. photo, in which he created the now famous Barack Obama "Hope" poster, has suffered a huge blow to his much publicized case. According to news reports, Fairey has now admitted that he falsified information about which photo he used as the model for the poster, and he also admitted to destroying some evidence. The result: Fairey's suit against the A.P. could be in a shambles, and, because they were lied to by their client, his lawyers have quit.

Fairey's iconic poster of then presidential candidate Obama drew almost immediate protests from the A.P., which claims it never gave the artist permission to make a derivative work of its copyright protected photograph. In what was supposed to be a prophylactic measure, Fairey sued the A.P., claiming he was entitled to use the photo under copyright law's "fair use doctrine." The A.P. countersued, and then the photographer who actually took the photo got into the mix claiming that he, and not the A.P., actually owned the copyright.

It's not certain whether Fairey will continue his suit against the A.P. But the A.P., now with a stronger case, is likely to continue its suit against Fairey.