Pryor Cashman's Art Law Group co-chairs Megan Noh and Bill Charron obtained a complete dismissal of copyright infringement claims against their clients, a German art collector and two German art dealers, brought by famed artist Cady Noland in connection with a sculpture known as "Log Cabin Facade." 

Noland sued under the U.S. Copyright Act, including its Visual Artist Rights Acts (VARA) provisions, asserting that Pryor Cashman's clients restored the sculpture in a manner that infringed on her purported copyright in the work and damaged her honor and/or reputation. The conservation took place in Germany, with components fabricated to the artist's original specifications by the original manufacturer; nevertheless, Noland disagreed with, and sued seeking to prevent further attribution to her of, the resulting restored work.

On June 1, 2020, Judge Paul Oetken of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York dismissed all of Noland's claims. In particular, the Court found that, even if "Log Cabin Facade" were protected by copyright (a question on which the Court did not rule), the dissemination of photographs of the restored work to potential buyers in the U.S. would constitute "fair use." The Court further found that the creation of an arguably copyrightable "derivative" work (i.e., the restored sculpture) by Pryor Cashman's clients after the enactment of VARA did not retroactively vest Noland's original work – which was made before VARA's enactment – with VARA protection.

This was Noland's fourth attempt at pleading causes of action based upon the restoration of "Log Cabin Facade." The court did not permit Noland a fifth pleading opportunity.

News of the victory was reported in The Art Newspaper, ArtNet, and other publications.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.