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.

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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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