Art Law

The Law Offices of Aaron Resnick, P.A. is extremely proud to have developed a practice group focusing on art and cultural property law. The firm handles all types of art litigation and alternate forms of dispute resolution, and also actively represent and counsel clients in corporate and commercial art law matters. Recently the firm was engaged in an action with Sotheby’s’ Auction house, which resulted in a favorable resolution for its client. According to Attorney Aaron Resnick, Art law is actually a combination of legal concepts geared towards coping with the issues related to art creation, ownership and transactions, and is an amalgam of contracts law, trusts and estates law, litigation and statutory law at different levels. In fact, the Framers of the Constitution acknowledged the importance of the arts when they wrote that Congress shall have the power “[t]o promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries” (Art. I, § 8).

In practice art law specialists are often litigators because many of the legal issues that arise relating to artwork are actually, at their core, adversarial legal disputes. Lawyers at the Law Offices of Aaron Resnick, P.A. represent buyers and sellers of artwork in authenticity disputes, for example, or in litigation relating to provenance. Other issues that frequently arise are those specifically relating to the artists themselves — art law litigators often represent artists whose work has been stolen (either physically or as a matter of copyright infringement) or who seek to prevent their prior work from being destroyed.

In other instances we may provide more pre-emptive advice. The Firm is often retained to advise art sellers how they may conduct sales and how to structure their art business transactions. For example, we may draft an art gallery’s consignment agreement or the terms of sale which appear on each sale invoice.

Other non-litigation art lawyers at the Firm include trust and estates experts who advise visual artists and their estates on taxation and estate planning matters such as setting up foundations and donating works of art to museums.

The clients of the Law Offices of Aaron Resnick range from art buyers or collectors to art dealers, galleries, auction houses, museums and artists themselves. According to Resnick, though many clients seek the advice of their general legal practitioner at first, many disputes are better handled by experts and those who deal with specific fine art related matters. Those matters are best referred to an art law specialist. To keep up with all the latest in Art Law news, Resnick suggests people go to http://theartlawblog.blogspot.com/. In addition, these sites are recommended:

Resale Right

The law gives artists certain rights in their creations. William Fisher, “Theories of Intellectual Property,” in Stephen Munzer, ed., New Essays in the Legal and Political Theory of Property (Cambridge University Press, 2001) is recommended for those who want to explore a sophisticated introduction to why the law recognizes property interests in intellectual products. These interests can be economic or non-economic, personality rights.

Copyright Basics

  • Copyright Crash Course: University of Texas. Includes very useful “Rules of Thumb” developed at UT.
  • Copyright: an overview from the Cornell Legal Information Institute
  • Note particularly the Visual Artists Rights Act (VARA), §§106, 106A, 107, and 113 of the Copyright Act
  • Berne Convention [Roam around in this site; don’t feel obliged to read the whole thing]
  • U.S. Copyright Office, a useful site for basic information.
  • A very extensive online collection of intellectual property laws is maintained by WIPO, the World Intellectual Property Organization.

Works-for-hire

  • Community for Creative Non-Violence v. Reid, 490 U.S. 730 (1989)
  • The Government Wants Its WPA Art Back. See also Jeanette Hendler, The W.P.A. Artists Project.

Originality

  • Bridgeman Art Library
  • Barry G. Szczesny, American Association of Museums, Government Affairs Counsel, April 1999 American Association of Museums Annual Meeting Presentation on Bridgeman Art Library v. Corel Corporation.
  • The Bridgeman Art Library, Ltd. v. Corel Corp., 25 F. Supp. 2d 421 (S.D.N.Y. 1998) (LEXIS | WESTLAW)
  • Bridgeman Art Library v. Corel Corp., 36 F. Supp. 2d 191 (S.D.N.Y. 1999) (LEXIS | WESTLAW)

Web Rights

  • Kelly v. Ariba Soft Corp. [See also http://www.ditto.com/]
  • Art, Copyright, and the Web Bibliography compiled by Jeanette Mills and Cynthia Caci (links updated August 2001)