Juggalos v. G-Men

Call it a case of rappers who think the feds are dissing their fans.

The Michigan-based rap group, Insane Clown Posse, along with four of its fans, has filed a lawsuit again the U.S. Justice Department and the FBI.  The issue is whether the federal law enforcement agency unfairly classified the band's admirers as criminal gang members.  The lawsuit charges that the classification resulted in unwarranted harassment.

Insane Clown Posse fans, who refer to themselves as Juggalos, say they've been discriminated against simply because of the music they listen to.

According to an article in the New York Times, the classification stems from an FBI report, titled ?National Gang Threat Assessment: Emerging Trends,? that cited two incidents, one in which two suspected Juggalos were charged with beating and robbing a homeless man, and another in which a suspected Juggalo shot and wounded two people.

The band's founder is cited in the article as saying  Insane Clown Posse has spent its whole career struggling to be taken seriously.

Well, nothing says "take me seriously" like a litigation summons.

Holmes Belongs to the World

Following up on an earlier post ("Is Holmes Free for the Taking?"), a federal judge ruled that the iconic characters of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson are in the public domain.

The estate of Arthur Conan Doyle had maintained that, although the characters were created in the 19th century, elements of them came into being after January 1, 1923, which the estate claimed meant the characters were still protected by copyright.

Not so, said a judge in the Northern District of Illinois.  In his Opinion and Order, the judge ruled the public domain argument outweighed the estate's.  Thus, the characters are free for the taking by others who might want to use them.  However, any specific elements of the characters created post 1922 are still protected by copyright.

O'Neal Wins Battle to Keep Fawcett Portrait

Just to follow up on the last post... The jury ruled in Ryan O'Neal's favor.  It decided that Mr. O'Neal is the owner of the portrait of longtime and late romantic partner, Farrah Fawcett, that's been hanging in his bedroom.

The University of Texas sued Mr. O'Neal, claiming Ms. Fawcett bequeathed the portrait done by artist Andy Warhol to the University.  Ms. Fawcett's trust did give her art collection to her alma mater.  However, Mr. O'Neal contested the particular portrait at the center of the controversy had been given to him by the artist.  Apparently, the jury agreed.

Love Is Never Having to Say You're Giving up the Art

If you can remember back to the 1970s, you can probably remember a time when it seemed actress Farrah Fawcett's image was on the cover of practically every magazine.  (I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if you told me she was even on Popular Mechanics and Soldier of Fortune.  Photos of the then-star from Charlie's Angels were just that ubiquitous.)

Ms. Fawcett died of cancer in 2009.  (Although, if you can't recall that, it's probably because she happened to die on the very same day that pop icon Michael Jackson died, and, as we all know, Mr. Jackson's passing sparked the kind of round-the-clock coverage typically reserved for outbreaks of war.)  However, Ms. Fawcett is still making news today.  Or, at least, her famed image is.  It's at the center of a legal battle between the University of Texas at Austin and Ms. Fawcett's longtime flame, actor Ryan O'Neal.

Mr. O'Neal, who became a Hollywood heartthrob after starring in the movie, Love Story, disputes the university's claim that it owns an Andy Warhol portrait of Ms. Fawcett that currently hangs in Mr. O'Neal's bedroom.

The university's claim is based on Ms. Fawcett having left her art collection to the university's museum of art.  There were two such portraits of the actress created by Mr. Warhol, and the university has one of them that Ms. Fawcett bequeathed to it.

Mr. O'Neal says the other portrait was given to him by the artist and is his own property.  The dispute is further complicated by the fact that the couple's well publicized relationship was of the on-again-off-again variety, and Mr. O'Neal claims Ms. Fawcett was only storing the art for him, which he says gave him the right to retrieve it after her death.

Both sides were in a Los Angeles court this week to hash it out.  Last word was that it's now before the jury.

N.Y. State and Feds Going After Antiquities Dealer

This week, a man pleaded guilty in a New York court to possession of $35 million worth of art from the nation of India, some of it dating back 2,000 years.  But both New York and the U.S. federal government are still trying to prosecute the man's employer whom they accuse of smuggling more than $100 million worth of antiquities from India to America.

Aaron M. Freedman was assistant and friend to Subhash Kapoor, who ran an art gallery on New York's Madison Avenue.  Mr. Freedman admitted to possession of stolen property, and, according to the New York Times, in his plea agreement he agreed to assist prosecutors in their case again Mr. Kapoor -- the alleged big cheese of the operation.

Indian law forbids native art that is more than 100 years old to be transported out of the country.  Naturally, India would like to see all the art recovered.  According to the Times article, there are still about fifty pieces missing.

Mr. Kapoor is currently in jail in India, but he's expected to be extradited to the U.S. for trial.