This course will cover a number of intersections between the law and the people and institutions who constitute the world of the visual arts, including artists, museums, collectors, dealers, and auctioneers. The course will also cover non-legal material geared to shaping practices of art market participants, such as codes and guidelines adopted by art-museum associations, as well as some relevant literature from other academic disciplines. Specific topics will include: (1) contexts in which a legal institution must determine whether a particular object is a work of “art” or art of a particular type; (2) artists’ rights, including statutory and non-statutory moral rights and resale rights; (3) problems of authenticity; (4) the legal rights and duties of auctioneers, art dealers, and other intermediaries; (5) the legal structure of art museums, including issues of internal management and governance; (6) stolen art, including objects looted during World War II; and (7) developments in law and industry practice relevant to “cultural heritage,” the association of particular objects with particular places or societies.
Students will be required to participate in class discussions, and will have the option of writing a 30-page research paper OR taking a take-home exam. Paper topics must be approved by the instructor, who will be glad to make suggestions (some of which will involve local field research).
There are no prerequisites for the course. Although some background in intellectual property (copyright and trademark law) would be helpful, none is required. A set of readings will be distributed prior to the first meeting of the class.
Please note that course organization and content may vary substantially from semester to semester and descriptions are not necessarily professor specific. Please contact the instructor directly if you have particular course-related questions.