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Art Law


Art Law involves a number of different legal areas that affect the arts.  The legal issues that most often arise in art law involve artist's rights, which are primarily addressed by copyright and contract law.


Copyright is a right that has its origins in the Constitution of the United States.  A copyright provides its creator or owner with certain defined rights such as the right to decide how a copyrighted work can used by someone else.  A copyright is said to exist whenever there is an expression of an idea in a fixed work, such as a painting or written manuscript.  Copyrights actually apply to many different kinds of works including computer software.  The key is that the idea expressed be original and not the copy or infringement of someone elses work. 
Copyrights are registered with the United States Library of Congress.  The cost of registering a copyright is fairly inexpensive and the forms for registering a copyright with instructions can be obtained over the internet.  You do not have to register your copyright for the copyright to be effective.  However, the failure to do so will make it harder to prove that you are the owner of the copyright and you will waive certain rights if somone infringes your copyright such as the right to collect attorney fees from an infringer if you have to file a lawsuit to protect your copyright.


A contract is usually a written document that that defines the rights and responsibilities of the parties to the contract.  Contracts can be oral but are not recommended because it is much harder to prove the terms of an oral agreement as opposed to a written agreement.

In simple terms, a contract defines the deal between two or more parties.  There is certain basic information that should be included in a contract in order to make a contract valid and enforceable.  At the very minimum, a contract should identify the parties to the contract, state the purpose of the contract, the performance required of the parties to the contract and the consideration to be paid under the contract.  


Keith F. Rouse, Esq. is both an attorney and a fine artist and  has expertise in art law related matters.  Keith earned a Batchelor of Fine Arts degree in Art with a concentration in painting from Colorado State University.  Keith earned a Master of Fine Arts degree in animation from the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) Film School.  Keith is primarily a painter and works exclusively in oils.  

Keith teaches a course in copyrights and contracts to the graduate students in animation at the UCLA Film School each year.

Keith has represented many artists in all disciplines with legal issues related to the arts.

If you would like to discuss your art law related issues with Keith please call:

(626) 449-4211

600 South Lake Avenue, Suite 507
Pasadena, CA 91106

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