Vol. 13, No. 2, October 2010

Art and the Law

[Updated 7/06/12]


International Foundation for Art Research (IFAR)

IFAR, a not-for-profit educational and research organization offers, inter alia, information on legal and ethical issues concerning art objects. Of particular interest are two databases it maintains: International Cultural Property Ownership and Export Legislation (ICPOEL) and Case Law and Statutes (CLS), both of which require free registration to use. As described on the website: ICPOEL "contains legislation governing the export and ownership of cultural property from dozens of countries. The legislation is presented in both summary form and as complete text; the latter in the original language and in translation. Selected historical legislation is also included, as, while superseded or amended, it can be useful for researchers looking for statutes applicable at the time of the acquisition, export or import of an art object. Links connect foreign legislation to relevant U.S. case law. There are also links to relevant international conventions and bilateral agreements." CLS "contains an extensive body of primarily U.S. case law, including both litigated cases and, notably, hard-to-find, out-of-court settlements. These materials are organized by topic, and under each topic, relevant cases are summarized. Where possible, images of the art objects in question are included. There are also links to relevant U.S. statutes, foreign legislation and a glossary."

Spencer's Art Law Journal

2010 is the first year of this journal. Its purpose is to "promote discussion of art law legal issues for lawyers and non-lawyers alike, with the goal of providing greater transparency, stability and predictability" in the art market. The first issue, the only issue published so far, contains four essays dealing with "two core issues for the ownership of visual art -- authenticity and title -- who created it and who owns it?" Even if further issues/essays are not forthcoming, the first four are worth reading.

Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts (VLA)

This organization, based in New York City and in existence since 1969, describes itself as "the first arts-related legal aid organization." VLA is funded in part by the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York State Council on the Arts, the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, and gifts from law firms, corporations, foundations and individuals. Of interest on its website is the Newsletter Archive, a trove of information on legal doings at the intersection of art and law in New York City, and the Caselist, which describes situations that could use legal advice. This list may be of interest to law students considering a legal career in the arts to get an idea of what kinds of issues one might encounter.

Law for Art

Law for Art has created an interesting and graphic website. This group describes itself as "a consulting service and an educational resource that provides information and advice to artists, collectors and others about the interplay of copyright and trademark and art." It also provides timely advice on other art-related legal topics. Of particular interest is the "articles" link, which contains a section on the basic legal principles governing the rights and responsibilities of art auctions as well as the "resources" link, which has a sample Sales Agreement form and an Art Consignment Agreement.

The Art Law Library

The Art Law Library is a subset of the larger website for the National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC). It is useful because it accumulates cases related to art by topic. For example, by using the "topics" link, one can ask to see cases on any of approximately 21 topics. See, for example, art and blasphemy.

Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy - Cultural Protection Treaties and International Agreements

A nice accumulation of Treaties and International Agreements connected to art such as the Treaty on the Protection of Artistic and Scientific Institutions and Historic Monuments (Roerich Pact) and the Convention on the Protection of the Archeological, Historical, and Artistic Heritage of the American Nations.


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