The Visual Artists Rights Act was enacted in 1990 to provide artists with moral rights. It applies only to works of visual art.

What Qualifies as a Work of Visual Art?

A work of visual art is defined as works of fine art so long as the fine art is issued in quantities fewer than 200, consecutively numbered and signed. This includes a painting, drawing, print, or sculpture. In the case of a sculpture, it can include multiple cast, carved, or fabricated form. Also included is a still photographic image produced for exhibition purposes only.

What Are Moral Rights?

These are the rights of attribution and integrity. The rights can be waived only by the artist in writing. The right of attribution is the right to be known as the author of the work and that his or her name cannot be used as the author of any work he or she did not create. The right of integrity is the right of an artist to have his or her name removed from a work he or she created in the event that the work is distorted or otherwise changed.

What Kinds of Art Are Not Considered Works of Visual Art?

Some kinds of art are not considered works of visual art and are not afforded the protection of the Visual Artists Rights Act. These kinds of art include:

  • Posters, maps, charts and globes
  • Technical drawings, diagram, models and applied art
  • Motion picture or other audiovisual work
  • Books, magazines, newspapers and periodicals
  • Databases, electronic information services and electronic publications
  • Advertising, promotional, descriptive, covering, or packaging materials
  • Any work made for hire
  • Any other work not subject to copyright protection

Should I Consult a Lawyer about My Art Law Issue?

Art law can be difficult to understand. An experienced copyright attorney can help you determine what you rights are. An intellectual property lawyer can also represent you in court if a dispute arises.