The Visual Artists Rights Act of 1990 (VARA), 17 U.S.C. § 106A, is a United States law granting certain rights to artists.

VARA was the first federal copyright legislation to grant protection to moral rights. Under VARA, works of art that meet certain requirements afford their authors additional rights in the works, regardless of any subsequent physical ownership of the work itself, or regardless of who holds the copyright to the work. For instance, a painter may insist on proper attribution of his painting, and in some instances may sue the owner of the physical painting for destroying the painting even if the owner of the painting lawfully owned it.

Although federal law had not acknowledged moral rights before this act, some state legislatures and judicial decisions created limited moral-rights protection. The Berne Convention required the protection of these rights by signatory states, and it was in response that the U.S. Congress passed the VARA.

Despite a recent decision in favor of municipal and property-developer defendants, a case pending in the Central District of Illinois serves as yet another warning to property developers to seek VARA waivers from artists up front.

In April 2019, 13 artists (the “Artist-Plaintiffs”) brought VARA claims against two defendants, the
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A case pending in the Western District of Pennsylvania should provide the opportunity for a federal judge to clarify the pleading requirements for the “recognized stature” element of a VARA claim.

In April 2018, street artist Kyle Holbrook and two arts organizations that he founded brought VARA claims against forty-four
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On February 12, Judge Frederic Block of the Eastern District of New York awarded $6.75 million in statutory damages to the aerosol artists of “5Pointz,” agreeing with the jury’s advisory finding that property developer Jerry Wolkoff violated those artists’ “right of integrity” under the Visual Artists Rights Act (“VARA”).

As
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In a recent decision, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals adopted a utility-based standard for determining when a work of art is deemed “applied art” and therefore not entitled to protection under the Visual Artists Rights Act (“VARA”).1 VARA was enacted in 1990 as an amendment to the Copyright Act, and incorporated the concept of droit moral
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