Art Law and Legal Definition

Some of the legal issues that arise in the arts include:

  • Agency Agreements
  • Business Name Protection
  • Classification and Censorship
  • Contracts
  • Copyrights
  • Defamation
  • Mediation Services
  • Confidential Information
  • Sponsorship Agreements
  • Trademarks
  • Unauthorized Use of Images
  • Stolen Art Recovery

One of the main treaties governing art works is Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works, which seeks to protect, in as effective and uniform a manner as possible, the rights of authors in their literary and artistic works. Art is also protected by copyright and trademark laws administered by the U.S Patent and Trademark Office.

Some states have laws protecting art works. For example, under one state statute, when a person buys a work of fine art, the reproduction rights remain with the artist or the artist's heirs, legatees, (persons taking under a will) or personal representative until it passes into the public domain unless there is an express written agreement otherwise. When you make prints of your artwork and/or use reproductions of it, you are infringing on the artist's rights and the artist has a right to be compensated. If you anticipate such a use, it is best to request the reproductions at the time you purchase the artwork. Usually, artists will grant such rights unless they have intentions to make prints for their own purposes.