Art law is not a single body of law but an overlapping of intellectual property law, contract law, constitutional law, tax law, and international law among others.l
The combination of these various fields of law fall under the banner of art law when they are used to protect, regulate, and market art. While art law, painted in broad strokes, contains music, film, theater, and literature, it is generally understood to pertain mostly to the visual arts. A good rule of thumb is that if you can put it in a gallery, art law applies.
Art law is closely related to cultural property law, which protects and regulates the disposition of culturally significant material. Cultural property is any property having special significance to a defined group of people. A great example of the overlap of art law and cultural property law would be the market for Native American Art that exists throughout New Mexico but is especially prominent in Santa Fe and Albuquerque. Art law and cultural property law works to protect and regulate artists, buyers, and merchants who participate in the art market.
The Artistic Attorney and the Business of Art
One of the primary functions of attorneys in the art world is to facilitate the business of buying and selling art pieces and making sure that valuable works of art are properly insured. In this sense, art law is simply another form of the law that all businesses use to conduct their day-to-day affairs. However, art law has specific complexities that require a specialized approach. For example, works of art are often very old and have passed through many owners. This means that attorneys must ensure that the chain of title for the artwork is in order and that the piece is legally available to be bought or sold. Many cases dealing with conflicting ownership of famous pieces of art arise from an improper claim to the artwork, a potentially expensive hassle that can be avoided by a diligent attorney.
Put Your Money in Picasso: Art as Investment and Currency
A large portion of the art world is centered on art as a form of investment. The art world is an impressionist stock exchange where investors gamble on the value of individual pieces rising and falling due to fluctuations in the market and the popularity of specific artists. This means that art collections worth significant amounts of money can run into legal problems when it comes to taxes, wills, and trusts. An experienced attorney can make sure that all the details are in order and the collection is properly set up to provide a maximal return on investments in art.
The Collaboration of Art Law and Intellectual Property
Art law also overlaps with many elements of intellectual property law, such as copyright, trademark, and licensing rights. These areas often arise when dealing with art exhibitions or licensing a piece for display in a museum. Proper contracts and an understanding of IP law will ensure that the rights of the owner are protected.
Put Yourself in the Hands of an Artist
The attorneys at Albuquerque Business Law are experienced intellectual property and art law practitioners. Specializing in litigation our attorneys can help you keep your art investments safe and profitable so you can keep enjoying the finer things in life.
Call or click today to speak to our attorneys about any questions about art law you may have.