The Visual Artists Rights Act - A Primer

There cannot be a discussion of copyright issues without a survey of the Visual Artist Rights Act (“VARA”).    This addition to the Copyright Act in 1990 was a welcome one for painters, photographers, sculptors and creators of visual artwork.  One major difference from the “traditional” copyright law is that rather than protecting reproductions of artwork, VARA protects the actual original pieces themselves, limited to “works of visual art” such as paintings, sculptures, drawings, prints and still photographs produced for exhibition.  What VARA was designed to protect was an artist’s moral rights in the artists’ work.

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