VARA expanded copyright protection for the visual arts and recognized three basic moral rights of artists – the right to the integrity of the work, a right of attribution, and the right to prevent misattribution or misuse of one’s name. In addition, artists of “recognized stature” may prevent intentional or neglect destruction of their work.
Legally, only paintings, drawings, prints, sculptures, and still photographic images are protectable as “fine art.” They must have been produced for exhibition only, editions must be limited to a max of 200, and the works must signed and numbered by the artist. This categorically excludes any work that exists in a non-traditional form – new media art, digital art, as well as artisan crafts.
- Using Creative Commons licensing statistics as an indicator of what rights content creators desire to preserve is revealing. Almost all of works licensed reserve attribution rights, indicating a strong desire to reserve the moral right of attribution. ↵
- Visual Artists Rights Act of 1990 “VARA,” 17 U.S.C. § 106A↵
- For more of a discussion on nontraditional media and VARA, see Fine Art: Exclusivity as Value↵