Fordham Law

Fordham Law Alumnus Represents Artist in Notable IP Case

September 03, 2010

Ever since Jason Schaeffer '98 was a student at Fordham Law, he has been dedicated to IP law. And ever since he was a child, he has been interested in art. Earlier this year, when the opportunity arose to assist a sculptor, David Ascalon, in a lawsuit involving a work of art, Schaeffer's two great passions converged; he naturally agreed to represent Ascalon.

Ascalon is suing over the restoration of a Holocaust memorial sculpture he designed for a park along the Susquehanna River in Pennsylvania. He claims that a recent
 Schaeffer with the restored sculpture
restoration  fundamentally altered the work of art and, by doing so, violated his moral rights.

An artist's moral rights are protected by the Visual Artists Rights Act of 1990, a law that Schaeffer is very familiar with. While a student at Fordham, he examined a prominent VARA case for his Advanced Copyright Class. He also worked with Professor Hugh Hansen in connection with the Annual Conference on Intellectual Property Law & Policy and served as Associate Editor of the Fordham Intellectual Property, Media & Entertainment Law Journal. Schaeffer credits this early IP work for helping launch his legal career in the Intellectual Property department at White & Case LLP, where he worked for two years after graduation.

The original sculpture
His connection to the IP journal benefited him again when he realized that, as a one-man law firm, he would need assistance in preparing Ascalon's case. Schaeffer got in touch with the Journal's current editorial board; editors Taylor Bell Graham '11 and LaRoyja Turner '11 were eager to assist.

"I contacted the IPLJ Editor-in-Chief for assistance, and Taylor and LaRoyja immediately responded to my request for help," said Schaeffer. "Because I'm currently a solo practitioner, the students are an invaluable asset to me. Additionally, they are receiving practical experience that allows them to develop their lawyering skills."

The case has already garnered attention from major media such as the Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg as well as legal blogs. Schaeffer notes that the case also coincides with the anniversary of VARA's enactment: "Twenty years after its enactment, VARA cases remain quite rare, so this is a unique opportunity for me and the students."

As an artist himself—Schaeffer took painting courses throughout his life and currently works in water colors and oils—he knows the importance of IP law in the art world and is grateful to Fordham Law for allowing him to deepen his understanding of the field: "I remembered how eager I was as a law student to obtain IP law experience, and I feel tremendously fortunate for this opportunity to reconnect with Fordham and to work on an important arts rights case."

Contact: Stephen Eichinger