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Please browse the below art law resources.

contractsA Surprisingly Interesting Book About Contracts: For Artists & Other Creatives by Sarah Conley Odenkirk

For most people, reading a contract conjures up feelings of dread rather than elation—perhaps even more so for artists. And who can blame them? Nevertheless, if you are going to succeed as a creative person in a business world, you must come to terms with the need to balance your aesthetic sense with business savvy.

Public Art in Private Development by The Law Offices of Sarah Conley Odenkirk

This Public Art in Private Development Resource Guide contains information from many communities around the United States. It includes as many communities across the country as we could find that have an ordinance or policy that relates to public art for private development. In this resource, you can find:

  • A Spread Sheet showing each City alphabetically by State, with the essential information about its Public Art in Private Development policy, ordinance, or other relevant program; and
  • Easy-to-use executive summaries organized by State. All underlying documentation is provided along with the summaries so that you can dig as deep as you want.

visual-arts-and-the-lawVisual Arts and the Law by Judith B Prowda

This essential handbook offers art professionals and collectors an accessible legal analysis of important principles in art law, as well as a practical guide to legal rights when creating, buying, selling and collecting art in a global market. Although the book is international in scope, there is a particular focus on the US as a major art centre and the site of countless key international court cases. This authoritative but accessible and wide-ranging volume is essential reading for arts advisors, collectors, dealers, auction houses, museums, investors, artists, attorneys and students of art and law.

bound-by-lawBound by Law? by Keith Aoki

A documentary is being filmed. A cell phone rings, playing the “Rocky” theme song. The filmmaker is told she must pay $10,000 to clear the rights to the song. Can this be true? “Eyes on the Prize”, the great civil rights documentary, was pulled from circulation because the filmmakers’ rights to music and footage had expired. What’s going on here? It’s the collision of documentary filmmaking and intellectual property law, and it’s the inspiration for this comic book. Follow its heroine Akiko as she films her documentary, and navigates the twists and turns of intellectual property. Why do we have copyrights? What’s “fair use”? Bound By Law reaches beyond documentary film to provide a commentary on the most pressing issues facing law, art, property and an increasingly digital world of remixed culture.

51PGw4XJaGL._SX387_BO1,204,203,200_Copyright Workflow for Photographers: Protecting, Managing, and Sharing Digital Images by Christopher S. Reed

Copyright Workflow for Photographers: Protecting, Managing & Sharing Digital Images will help photographers build best practices for copyright registration and management into their existing image processing workflows using the popular Adobe® Creative Cloud™ software suite. Part legal manual, part software manual, the book will go beyond existing offerings in the “copyright for photographers” space by providing step-by-step guidance on protecting, managing, and enforcing intellectual property rights in their images using specific software tools.

The Art Newspaper

The Art Newspaper breaks news across all sectors of the visual arts, from museums and heritage, creation, publishing, conservation and the art market. It also covers developments in law, tax and the political and economic spheres of cultural policy. The Art Newspaper is an investigative paper that looks behind the smooth and bright face of the art world. Because of its expertise and unbiased commentary, it is widely regarded as the journal of record for the sector and its readership is as global as its editorial coverage.

Artnet News

Artnet News is the world’s first dedicated 24-hour global art market newswire. The mission of Artnet News is to inform, engage, and connect you—the most avid members of the art community—with daily art world news and expert commentary. They have assembled a team of trusted, experienced reporters and editors in Europe, Asia, and North America who track who is making news and what’s driving the market around the clock.


Hyperallergic is a forum for playful, serious, and radical perspectives on art and culture in the world today.

Patents are issued for unique and non-obvious inventions. A patent for an invention is the grant of a property right to the inventor, issued by the Patent and Trademark Office (the “PTO”). The website for the PTO can be found at term of a new patent is 20 years from the date on which the application for the patent was filed in the United States or, in special cases, from the date an earlier related application was filed, subject to the payment of maintenance fees. US patent grants are effective only within the US, US territories, and US possessions.The right conferred by the patent grant is, in the language of the statute and of the grant itself, “the right to exclude others from making, using, offering for sale, or selling” the invention in the United States or “importing” the invention into the United States. What is granted is not the right to make, use, offer for sale, sell or import, but the right to exclude others from making, using, offering for sale, selling or importing the invention.

Trademarks are also issued by the PTO. A trademark is a word, name, symbol or device, which is used in trade with goods to indicate the source of the goods and to distinguish them from the goods of others. A servicemark is the same as a trademark except that it identifies and distinguishes the source of a service rather than a product. The terms “trademark” and “mark” are commonly used to refer to both trademarks and servicemarks.If the appropriate affidavits are filed with the PTO, trademark registrations last for 10 years and can be renewed for additional 10-year periods.Trademark rights may be used to prevent others from using a confusingly similar mark, but not to prevent others from making the same goods or from selling the same goods or services under a clearly different mark.

Copyright is a form of protection provided to the authors of original works of authorship including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and certain other intellectual works, both published and unpublished. This protection exists as soon as the work is fixed in a tangible medium.In general, work created by an individual on or after January 1, 1978 is protected for the life of the author plus 70 years. For works made for hire, the protection lasts for the shorter of 95 years from the year of its first publication, or a term of 120 years from the year of its creation.The 1976 Copyright Act generally gives the owner of copyright the exclusive right to reproduce the copyrighted work, to prepare derivative works, to distribute copies or phonorecords of the copyrighted work, to perform the copyrighted work publicly, or to display the copyrighted work publicly.The copyright protects the form of expression rather than the subject matter of the writing. Thus, ideas are not protected, only the expression of the ideas as fixed in a tangible medium may receive copyright protection. Copyrights are registered by the Library of Congress, which can be found at

Copyright in a work exists as soon as the work is fixed in a tangible medium.Copyright Law allows copyright protection “in original works of authorship fixed in any tangible medium of expression, now known or later developed, from which they can be perceived, reproduced, or otherwise communicated, either directly or with the aid of a machine or device.” 17 USC §102.

Originality. Originality is a key component of obtaining copyright protection for any work of authorship. Feist Publications, Inc. v. Rural Telephone Service Co., 499 US 340, 344, 111 SCt 1282, 1287, 113 LEd2d 358, 18 USPQ2d 1275 (1991). Any work of authorship, to be protectable , must contain some element of substantial originality. This means that while facts may not be eligible for copyright protection, the manner in which facts are selected, composed or arranged may be protectable.

Works of Authorship. Copyright Law categorizes works of authorship as follows:

  • Literary works;
  • Musical works, including any accompanying words;
  • Dramatic works, including any accompanying music;
  • Pantomimes and choreographic works;
  • Pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works;
  • Motion pictures and other audiovisual works;
  • Sound recordings; and
  • Architectural works.

In addition to those works listed in the Copyright Act, works such as computer programs and multimedia works are also protectable.
Copyright Law excludes protection for “any idea, procedure, process, system, method of operation, concept, principle, or discovery, regardless of the form in which it is described, explained, illustrated, or embodied in such work,” because they do not consist of an expression sufficient to justify protection. Id. Additionally, utilitarian objects such as lamps or chairs are not copyrightable. However, if a utilitarian object incorporates and artistic component such as a decorated base, a specially designed lamp shade or uniquely carved chair legs, the art itself is copyrightable. See Mazer v. Stein, supra.

Fixed in a Tangible Medium

Fixation may be in any tangible medium imaginable. The most common forms of fixation include: writing, painting, sculpture, photographs, video, film, architectural structures, computer or flash drives, and other tangible electronic media.
Registration allows a copyright holder to bring an infringement action in the Federal Courts.

Registration of copyright provides several benefits to the registrant.

1. Registration establishes prima facie evidence of the validity of the copyright and facts stated in the certificate when registration is made before or within five years of publication.

2. When registration is made prior to infringement or within three months after publication of a work, a copyright owner is eligible for several important remedies:

  • Statutory damages up to $30,000 per infringement;
  • Attorneys’ fees and costs; and
  • Possible injunctive relief.

Further, registration can cut off some defenses that infringement was “innocent” thereby allowing for additional statutory damages of up to $150,000 per infringement.

Copyright registrations are filed with the Library of Congress. Information and forms may be found at:

It is $35 per application if filed on line and $85 if filed the old fashioned way . . . on paper via mail. Attorney costs are separate and vary dramatically. However, through Art Law Resource’s project space, Art Murmuration, you may be able to participate in an Open Studio session to learn how to register your own copyrights. Check out our Events page for more information.

Placing a notice of copyright on original works, though no longer required by law, is highly recommended as it serves as a notice to the public that the work is protected by copyright. Further, having a prominent copyright notice on a work will foreclose copyright infringement defendants from raising a defense of innocent infringement, ie. arguing that they did not realize the work was protected by copyright.Proper form of copyright notice is as follows:

The symbol ©;
The year of first publication; and
The name of the owner of the copyright.

For example:
© 2016 Sarah Conley Odenkirk
It is also advisable to include a statement of “All rights reserved.” at the end of the notice.

The only way to transfer ownership of a copyright is to have a writing signed by the copyright owner specifically transferring the rights.

Keep notes of all conversations or meetings.
Confirm important conversations and all agreements in writing with your signature, and keep a copy for your files.
Do not sign anything before you have thoroughly read the document and understand its contents.
If you are unsure of the effect of an agreement, contact an attorney. A small amount of time and money spent on legal advice now could save you a lot of headache later.
Keep a copy of everything you sign and everything you receive.
If a disagreement arises, remain calm and address it immediately.