International Art and the Law
First taught at Sage College of Albany Spring Semester 2009
Art knows no borders. Neither do those who appreciate it.
But art and commerce do mix, and where there is commerce there are legal ramifications. More than in nearly any other endeavor, art transactions can bridge international borders and encounter unique legal entanglements in the process. This course is designed as an introduction for all those involved in art to the wide variety of domestic and international legal complications that may be encountered in the pursuit of all forms of artistic expression and appreciation.
The course will discuss examples of various forms of artistic expression and follow their travels across international borders to see how the artists', owners' and the public's rights change, spring up or disappear.
Legal topics will likely include copyright (rights of display, reproduction, performance, distribution, etc.), trademarks, work made for hire, utility vs. aesthetic, industrial design vs. artistic creativity, moral rights including positive and negative rights of attribution, and the right of integrity, other economic rights and related or ancillary rights, ownership, joint authorship, partial ownership, estate management and valuation of art, artist resale rights, the U.S. Federal Visual Artists Rights Act (VARA) statute, separating the sale of the copyright from the sale of the artwork, consignment sale arrangements, auction law, repatriation and “looted” art, cultural property, and state and local law variations that pertain to artistic expression.
Art forms explored or used as examples will likely include traditional and non-conventional forms such as: painting, sculpture, architecture, drama, writing, performance art, poetry, films and television, audio theater, multimedia installations, industrial design, cultural art forms and many others. Suggestions of other forms of expression as examples will be welcome.
Whether you are now or will soon become an artist, museum director, art instructor, lawyer, collector or patron of the arts, this course is designed to open your eyes to the vast expanse of legal interpretation and variety you may encounter in the world so you can be prepared for what you might find.
The goal of this course is to make one aware of the legal ramifications that might impact a pursuit of art without distracting or confusing the student with the too intricate details of either the law or the art. Successful students should walk away feeling that they will be able to recognize where there might be issues needing further study. They will know when questions need to be asked or professional advice sought and not be blindsided by unexpected ramifications or miss possible opportunities of which they had not been aware.