Plaintiff’s attorney Quade squared off against judge McQuaid, in front of a Federal jury. And the jury decided that Michael Stewart did nothing wrong, because this beautiful art car was not arty enough.
In finding in favor of the Defendant, the case has set a precedent that Art Cars are not considered fine art (something precious that appreciates in value), instead considering it the lesser, utilitarian category of “applied art”.
In his opinion Thursday, U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert McQuaid Jr. said La Contessa was applied art because it was not merely meant to “portray the appearance of the article or to convey information.”
As a mode of transportation, La Contessa maintained its utilitarian function, thus designating it as applied art, McQuaid said.
“Basically (McQuaid’s opinion) has established precedent that art cars are not protected,” Stewart’s attorney Keegan Low said.
Quade referenced several artists that believe La Contessa is fine art. Only one of them was allowed to testify in the two-week case that ended Thursday, Quade said.
Fine art receives federal protection under the Visual Artists Rights Act of 1990, an amendment to the U.S. Copyright code.
The plaintiffs now intend to take their case to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.