This summer, Pacific Standard Time’s world-class exhibits highlight the architecture that gives Southern California its unique reputation for modern but relaxed style. This series of exhibits, a Getty initiative, titled “Modern Architecture in LA,” maps the aspect of Los Angeles architecture that is often overwhelmed by residential structures, instead focusing on infrastructure and urban planning, commercial and civic buildings, and housing experiments, among others. Architecture is an art form, and it is also a distinct practice in and of itself. When considering the relationship between art and architecture, it is interesting to see how these practices are at once similarly and differently protected by the law. The Copyright Act of 1976 and the Berne Convention have all resolved to give architects the protection they deserve. But is this protection enough?Continue Reading The Architecture of Copyright

Auction houses typically do not disclose the identity of the seller on their sales contracts. A recent New York trial court decision may drastically change that longstanding practice.

The auction trade is supply-driven. As such, it heavily depends on sellers – and those sellers usually want to remain anonymous. Consignors have various motives for keeping their identity anonymous. They may want to avoid having relatives or creditors know they sold family valuables, or do not want the public knowing what is "none of their business". Dealers may not want the public to know they are selling stock. There may also be unsavory motives at play, though reputable auction houses carefully vet both the seller and the goods.Continue Reading Caveat Consignor

By Kathryn Hines and Manuel Gomez

This year, visitors to the Metropolitan Museum of Art were able to view Rembrandt’s Portrait of the Artist (ca. 1665), on loan from the Kenwood House in North London and in the United States for the very first time. Also this year, visitors to the Philadelphia Museum of Art experienced Van Gogh Up Close, an exhibition featuring some of the artist’s most innovative paintings, on loan from private collectors and museums worldwide, including the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, the Centraal Museum in Utrecht, and the Hague. And, on the west coast from July 3 to September 23, 2012, visitors to the J. Paul Getty Museum will have the opportunity to see Gustav Klimt: The Magic of Line, the first retrospective fully dedicated to the drawings of the popular modern artist, on loan mostly from the Albertina in Vienna.Continue Reading Lend Us Your Ears: Museums Implore Senate

By Christine Steiner

In the same era Gerald Ford advised his fellow Americans that “our long national nightmare is over,” as he succeeded Richard Nixon as president, the California Legislation enacted the sloppily-drafted California Resale Royalty Act, Civil Code Section 986. The act was not exactly a nightmare, in truth it slumbered for most of its thirty-plus lifetime. It seemed more honored in the breach than the observance. Recent awareness of the resale royalty obligation, though, has caused confusion and consternation for California sellers, for California artists and for the art trade nationwide. Some have, in fact, described it as a nightmare. As of late last week, the nightmare may be over.Continue Reading My Fellow Californians – Our Long National Nightmare is Over

By Valentina Shenderovich and Christine Steiner

Public wall murals have been the subject of much attention recently. Legislators for Los Angeles, considered the “mural capital of the world”, are reviewing a proposed city ordinance to preserve vintage art murals and to repeal an existing ban on private murals (enacted as an overzealous attempt to stem graffiti). Wall murals are the focus of attention in other cities as well. Murals are visible and public “public art”, presenting social, political and aesthetic ideas in and on everyday media.Continue Reading A Murality Play

By Tyler Baker and Christine Steiner

With New York’s Fashion Week upon us, the time is appropriate to examine the intellectual property protections available to some of the most prominent artists in popular culture: fashion designers. No one would seriously question the great artistic talents of many designers. Their imaginative, inventive, and daring creations and their lasting legacies have pushed artistic limits of the fashion world for decades. And yet, despite being undoubtedly artists in their craft, fashion designers do not enjoy the same protection in their work under current U.S. intellectual property laws that their artistic peers enjoy in the worlds of visual arts, film, music and dance.Continue Reading Fashion Designers: Legally Naked?

By Lano Williams and Christine Steiner

The past year was packed with litigation that ranged from broad constitutional questions to the ever present scourge of forgeries. Art Law Gallery presents highlights of some of the most important cases:
 Continue Reading The Year In Review

Everyone remembers the first day of their highly touted unpaid internship—nerves twitching, heart racing, palms sweating, eager to perform any mundane task with the utmost perfection to impress a new supervisor. For many, especially in art, fashion, and entertainment, these internships are an individual’s big break, granting entrance to a career of their dreams by providing hands-on experience and access to priceless networking opportunities. While unpaid internships have seemingly been a mainstay of the creative industries—even Stephen Spielberg, Tom Ford, and Sylvia Plath found themselves fetching coffee at one point—many other for-profit employers are venturing down the unpaid internship route. What many employers would be surprised to learn is that, according to the U.S. Department of Labor’s ("DOL") Wage and Hour Division, there are very few circumstances where a for-profit employer can offer an unpaid internship and still be in compliance with the law. With a struggling economy and a significant increase in unpaid internship programs offered by for-profit employers, this issue has been thrust into the spotlight. Internships are increasingly becoming a crucial component of the business world, and while employers can provide an invaluable opportunity for interns, state and federal regulators across the country are focusing on ensuring employers are not taking advantage of wide-eyed, eager students looking to jumpstart their career.
 Continue Reading The “Starving” Intern: Legal Ins & Outs of Unpaid Internships

The notion that the arts make our culture "richer" is commonplace in our vernacular, but an undeniable trend has emerged giving an entirely new meaning to the phrase: across the board, the country’s nonprofit arts and culture industry has grown by twenty-four percent over the past five years, generating over $166 billion in economic activity a year. Art can be big business, and not just in cosmopolitan meccas like New York and Los Angeles. Across the United States, small and midsized cities are harnessing their creative energy to jumpstart their local economies, often with striking results. Cities that have taken heed of this trend have been rewarded in multiple ways—from the rehabilitation and development of uninhabitable areas of the city to the welcoming of tourists, businesses, and well-heeled residents to those very areas. One seminal example is New York’s Soho and Tribecca neighborhoods, which now exceed the famed Upper East Side and Central Park West neighborhoods in rental and real estate prices. It is a reversal of the commonly held notion that artists drain resources, rather than attract them. Perhaps no city has been more successful in exploiting the economic potential of the arts than Paducah, Kentucky, a town of 27,000 which got the Extreme Makeover formula just right when it implemented what has come to be known as an Artist Relocation Program.

Continue Reading Extreme Makeover: Arts Edition

Often critics comment on the technique, the style, the grandeur of a work of art, and the dramatic and arduous so-called “artistic process”. Rarely, do we study or observe how art is shaped by legal and environmental restrictions, community resistance, and bureaucratic red tape. However, unlike a painting where an artist makes choices based on subjective decisions,  Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s latest planned installation Over the River appears more akin to the construction of a bridge or dam that is shaped by government agencies, public hearings, and environmental protests. By venturing outside of the museum and gallery space, and dipping their toe in the water, their latest project Over the River presents a fascinating case study on the intersection of government, the law, art and the environment that will have ramifications far past the intended two week installation.  

Continue Reading “Over the River” and into the Legal Fray: Christo and Jeanne-Claude

Ars longs, vita brevis. Art is immortal, artists are mortal. Taxes impinge on every part of the art world and are a concern for both artists and collectors.   Planning for and administering estates of artists and owners of art collections raises unique business management, income tax, transfer tax, and estate planning issues.  Such planning often requires an interdisciplinary approach that addresses copyright law, tax and estate planning (including, but not limited to, charitable giving), business management, and knowledge of the valuation of a creative work.  Substantial changes were made to the Federal estate, gift and generation-skipping transfer taxes by The Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010 (the "2010 Act"). 
 Continue Reading The Art Of Taxes: Major Changes To The Federal Transfer Tax System