NRA ordered to remove sculpture from its video

The National Rifle Association in the United States used a shot of London-based artist Anish Kapoor's Cloud Gate in a video last year.
The National Rifle Association in the United States used a shot of London-based artist Anish Kapoor's Cloud Gate in a video last year.PHOTO: NYTIMES

LOS ANGELES • Anish Kapoor, a London-based artist known for ambitious public works, has scored a bull's eye.

He said the National Rifle Association (NRA) in the United States had agreed to erase an image of his Chicago sculpture, known as the Bean, from one of its videos, settling his lawsuit against the group.

"We are pleased to declare victory over the NRA," Kapoor said in a statement.

His 110-tonne stainless-steel sculpture in Chicago's Millennium Park, titled Cloud Gate, but more popularly known by its shape, was completed in 2006.

It has become a popular tourist attraction, especially because of how its exterior reflects the city's skyline.

The NRA used a shot of the work in a video last year called The Violence Of Lies. In it, spokesman Dana Loesch lambasts liberals for "using their media to assassinate real news", among other statements.

A split-second shot of Chicago skyscrapers, with Cloud Gate in the foreground, appears in the video.

"I am disgusted to see my work - in truth the sculpture of the people of Chicago - used by the NRA to promote its vile message," Kapoor said.

After a school shooting in Parkland, Florida, that killed 17 students and staff in February, he published an open letter accusing the NRA - which lobbies to allow widespread gun ownership in the US - of playing to "the basest and most primal impulses of paranoia, conflict and violence".

In June, Kapoor filed a suit in the US District Court in Chicago, alleging copyright infringement.

"NRA never asked the plaintiff for permission to use Cloud Gate and the plaintiff never granted it - and never would have granted it," his court filing said.

The lawsuit stated that Kapoor had asked the NRA to remove the image of the sculpture, which is owned by the city of Chicago, but that the group had declined.

He added in the court filing that he had registered Cloud Gate with the US Copyright Office, giving him control over how it is used.

The NRA successfully petitioned to have the case moved to the federal court in Alexandria, Virginia, near its headquarters.

It said in court filings that it was allowed to use an image of a public sculpture and that Kapoor was trying to "muzzle First Amendment-protected speech just because he apparently disagrees with the message conveyed".

But it has since relented. In a statement, the NRA said Kapoor's lawsuit was "baseless", but that it agreed to remove the image "to avoid the cost and distraction of litigation".

It also said that the settlement does not require the group to pay him any money.

Kapoor, however, took a victory lap, saying that "its bullying and intimidation has not succeeded".

He invited the NRA to do "the honourable thing" and donate US$1 million (S$1.37 million) to gun-violence victims.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 10, 2018, with the headline 'NRA ordered to remove sculpture from its video'. Print Edition | Subscribe