Student Note on the Visual Artists Rights Act

A part of the installation under dispute between Mass. MoCA and Christopher Buchel 

Elizabeth M. Bock has a student note in  the Michigan Law Review on the Visual Artists Rights Act. From the Introduction:

In 2010, the Court of Appeals for the First Circuit confronted the novel question of when moral rights protections vest under the Visual Artists Rights Act. In Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art Foundation, Inc. v. Büchel, the First Circuit determined that the protections of the Visual Artists Rights Act begin when a work is “created” under the Copyright Act. This Note argues that this decision harms moral rights conceptually and is likely to result in unpredictable and inconsistent decisions. This Note proposes instead that these statutory protections should vest when an artist determines that his work is complete and presents it to the public. This standard is more consistent with the history of moral rights. Additionally, public access is necessary to justify a treatment of art different from that of other types of property, and it is a more essential component of moral rights than an artist’s feelings of connection to his work. Finally, the legislative intent behind the Visual Artists Rights Act and the reasoning in previous judicial decisions are more accurately reflected by a public disclosure standard. Utilizing “creation” as a vesting point for moral rights is not supported by the history of the Visual Artists Rights Act and will result in uncertainty and inconsistency in future decisions.

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Institute of Art and Law Events in New York and London

The Institute of Art and Law will be putting together a panel in New York on art recovery and later a “Study Forum” on Art and Antiquities Law in London. Both are highly recommended, and well-worth the small fees. Here are the details:

New York – 16th November
New Dimensions in Art Recovery –
a joint conference
convened by IAL and Herrick Feinstein LLP
Claims against possessors of art continue to proliferate. The impulse to unravel transactions in stolen art has inspired new legal maneuvers and defenses. While museums are obvious front-line defendants, the legal risks and ethical pressures also affect private collectors, governments, recovery agencies and insurers. They also provide unprecedented opportunities for claimants.
The aim of this seminar is to inform practicing lawyers and museum staff about initiatives that are being taken to diversify the practice of art recovery in a trans-Atlantic context. Eminent practitioners from the US and the UK will report on  approaches to litigation within each jurisdiction to highlight the differences and similarities between them.
London, Saturday 26th November 2011
At this Study Forum a panel of specialised speakers will examine aspects of the law relating to art and antiquities, including criminal law (theft, handling, money laundering, the Dealing in Cultural Objects (Offences) Act), contract (formation, exclusion and limitation clauses), international conventions.
Further details available here or to reserve a place, click here or email us at 
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