This article examines the Visual Artists Rights Act as applied to digital graphic art. It first defines moral rights as “the rights of the artist to create a work, to display the work to the public in whatever form the artist chooses, to withhold the creation from the public, and to demand respect for the artist’s personality as the creator of her works.” The article then further breaks this summary down into categories. An interesting distinction made is the fact that copyright extends beyond the life of the author (oftentimes) but moral rights do not. This article provides a basic summary and background of VARA, and lists various specifications for what defines a work that would be protected. VARA was introduced into the United States Copyright Law following the Berne Convention’s moral rights code; however, unlike the European version, it only covers visual artists. Based on what the act uses to define painting and drawing, it is arguable that digital works should be protected. Interestingly, the article states that Congress designed VARA so that it would “evolve with the artistic community” and under VARA, digital art is considered visual art. The article then illuminates what is within VARA’s scope of protection, and discusses the two integrity rights and three attribution rights. It also highlights the importance placed on the honor and reputation of the artist. How VARA relates to state legislation is discussed, and the fact that state laws do not always cover moral rights, but they do highlight certain topics like trademarks, that could be associated with an artist’s moral rights. Further recommendations are made as to how attorneys should represent their clients who are trying to claim protection under VARA, and whether that is feasible under the guidelines listed.
This article is an example of what is continuously discusssed regarding new technology constantly changing the world of copyright. It is important to note how with the changing times, laws are now a little more broad in their reach, so as to seem more progressive. The discussion of representing clients who feel their rights have been violated and are claiming protection under VARA is crucial to understanding how the act is carried out in reality. The fact that understanding why the work was created and the medium that was used, among other factors, are important to note to understand the scope of VARA.