Partner and Art Law Group co-chair Megan Noh explored the nuisances of the federal Visual Artist's Rights Act (VARA) as it relates to "protest art" and the Black Lives Matter movement. Enacted in 1990, VARA is intended to protect artists' intellectual property. However, the validity of an artist's claim to work illegally placed on another person's property complicates the issue. According to Noh,
"While logical in their intent, VARA's notice provisions do not necessarily contemplate the type of spontaneous and rapid installation that has been witnessed in the context of the recent protests ... it seems unlikely that many political activists responding to the dynamic political events of the spring and summer of 2020 are rushing to file 'Visual Arts Registry Statements' and ... how long might it take for the Copyright Office to record such statements? ... In the absence of such a recorded artist's statement, might a property owner's effort to contact the author of an artwork be deemed 'diligent' and 'good faith' if the property owner posts a notice of intended removal on its website and on social media?"
The full article is titled, "VARA Protection for Spontaneous 'Protest Art': Balancing Artists' and Property Owners' Rights in the Context of Dynamic Political Artworks for an Increasingly Digital Audience." It was published in the Summer 2020 edition of the American Bar Association Section of International Law's Art & Cultural Heritage Law Newsletter.
Learn More About Noh's Practice
Megan Noh co-chairs Pryor Cashman's Art Law Group. With 15 years of combined experience in private practice and both in-house legal and business positions in the auction world, Megan has extensive knowledge of the complex issues impacting today's art market. Her clients include auction houses, collectors, galleries, individual artists, estates, and non-profits, whom she counsels on a range of transactional and litigation matters.
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