Patry, William F. "The Visual Artists' Rights Act of 1990 (VARA). Copyright Law and Practice. Vol 2. Arlington: The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc, 1994.
William Patry provides an overview of the Visual Artists’ Rights Act, and this chapter is divided into numerous sections to simplify VARA's breakdown. Patry states that the goal of VARA is to “preserve the physical integrity of the physical embodiment of works of visual art, both as an expression of the creativity of the artist, and in order to ensure that culture is passed on to future generations.” However, because it is so narrowly defined in what it protects, VARA shows how reluctant United States officials are to put moral rights into federal law. Patry provides insight into the reasoning behind certain provisions in VARA, such as the exclusions, which he says were “intended to eliminate opposition from the motion picture, publishing, and computer industries.” This chapter also explains each of the three rights granted by VARA: the right of attribution, integrity, and the right to prohibit destruction. Exceptions are extensively investigated, while also declaring that VARA distinguishes between exceptions regarding subject matter and exceptions regarding rights granted in Section 106A of United States Copyright Law. Interestingly, Patry touches on the issue of fair use as a possible section of conflict between “traditional copyright law and VARA.” VARA prevents parody or satire of visual artwork, because in order for parody or satire to work, the original work must be “distorted or modified” in some way that harms the artist’s reputation. Patry goes on to explain preemption regarding federal vs. state laws, among other forms of preemption.
This chapter in Patry’s book provides an excellent overview of some of the issues that arise regarding VARA. The conflicts that arise due to VARA show how new legislation always comes with its dissenters and supporters, and it always has some type of loophole or problem. Patry’s insight into why Congress added certain provisions helps the average audience to understand the legislation process with regards to copyright.