Saturday, July 23, 2011

VARA: The Law That Every Artist Needs To Know

This is a law that every artist/creative person should know. VARA is short for Visual Artists Rights Act. Its protected me. Here's how: I was doing some volunteer work for my local library, they asked me to paint some fantasy figures on some new books cases for the children's section. I was never given a deadline, despite my asking for one. I told them that I'd need to take paying work first and may have to take some time off here and there. I also showed them detailed drawings of everything that was going to be featured. They agreed to everything. I told them on more than one occasion that the job would take me about 2 - 3 months. Again, all was agreed. After about a month and a half I became very sick. I let them know. They never said anything to me. About a week later i go down to work on them and see that they've gotten another person (I won't say artist as that they work was both crude and childish) to take over what I had already started. This included painting over some of my figures. I told them they couldn't do with without my written consent. I was told that I didn't own the bookcases that library and thus the town did. I got a lawyer who deals with Intellectual Property Law. He write them a nice letter stating they could touch my art because the art and the creative process behind it was owned by me. They ignored his letter. He wrote them again stating that if they didn't stop work immediately, we would sue them for the maximum amount allowed by law. This time, copies of the letter went to the library's board of director's, the head librarian, the town conical and the town's lawyer. Included was a copy of VARA for them to look over. Yes, they owned the building that the bookcases were housed in. Yes they owned the bookcases. But they did not own the art and thus couldn't alter it in any way because it was owned by me. So the bookcases to this day remained unfinished and I check on them now and again. To find out more about VARA, please CLICK HERE

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