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Judge dismisses case of ‘Batman’ sculptures

Court rules no infringement on copyright

In a decision that should make life a little easier for filmmakers, a federal judge has ruled that there was no copyright infringement when an artist’s sculptures on a building were used in the pic “Batman Forever” without his permission.

For the film, an office building at 8th and Figueroa streets in downtown L.A. served as the Second National Bank of Gotham City. The building has towers with distinctive metalwork that depict allegorical images of the history of Los Angeles.

In 1995, artist Andrew Leicester sued Warner Bros., which produced the film, claiming that his work was prominently featured in the film and was used without his permission.

In dismissing the case, U.S. District Court Judge Harry Hupp held that the sculptures on the facade of the building were architectural works, and under current copyright law can be freely photographed.

Robert Schwartz of O’Melveny & Myers, who represented WB, said, “Congress intended the American landscape to belong to everyone, including filmmakers producing commercial movies. This decision holds that cities and streets can be freely filmed without fear of being dragged into court.”

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