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Understanding the Visual Artists Rights Act

The Visual Artists Rights Act, or VARA, is a statute created by the federal government. The statute limits which works can be resold or destroyed. VARA only covers the following types of art, which must also be limited edition and must not exceed 200 copies:

  • paintings
  • prints
  • drawings
  • photographs
  • sculptures

If your work is featured as a photo in circulation of over 200 copies, the original work remains covered by VARA. For example, a photograph of a piece used in a book is not covered, but the physical original is.

Destruction:

VARA covers destruction in order to protect the reputation of the artist. If a work is destroyed without permission and displayed, it could be harmful to the artist’s reputation and business. VARA does not cover a destroyed work if:

  • The work was created prior to the 1990 passing of VARA
  • The artist gives written permission for destruction
  • Deterioration or destruction due to natural causes, including time and degrading materials
  • The creator is no longer living. Unlike copy right law, VARA protected works may be destroyed once the artist dies.

Commissioned works are not covered by VARA. When an artist is hired, they produce a work under the ownership of someone else, who is granted copyright protection.

Besides destruction, VARA protects the piece of work from any modification that is not authorized by the original artist.

Contact an Intellectual Property Lawyer

The destruction of your art can harm your reputation and ability to profit from future works. If you feel that your work was unfairly destroyed, or resold to someone intending to destroy the piece, you may be protected by VARA. To learn more, contact intellectual property lawyers Gagnon, Peacock & Vereeke, P.C. At their Dallas office by dialing (214) 317-4448.

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