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Fine Arts Law

What is fine arts law?

Frances Feasey, At the Edge (2016), oil on canvas. 50 x 60 cm. Reproduced here by kind permission of the artist. Feasey’s work, inspired by the Australian landscape, consists particularly of treescapes and bush scenes. She has been painting since 2005.

At first glance the two component parts of the term, fine arts and law, may seem incongruous. Fine arts law, however, is actually a combination of legal concepts geared towards coping with the issues related to art creation, ownership and transactions. It is an amalgam of contracts law, trusts and estates law, litigation and statutory law at different levels.

We have expertise in acting for corporate and commercial clients as well as those in or associated with the fine arts community.

These are just some of the specialised areas affecting the fine arts community in which we have particular expertise:

  • The Code of Practice of the Professional Australian Visual Arts, Craft and Design Sector
  • contracts between artists and galleries or other bodies
  • censorship issues
  • legal issues associated with fraud and art theft insurance, and
  • copyright

In practice, fine arts law specialists are often litigators because many of the legal issues that arise relating to artwork are actually, at their core, adversarial legal disputes, and in some cases there is an overlap with Intellectual Property Law disputes. We represent buyers and sellers of artwork in authenticity disputes, for example, or in litigation relating to provenance.

Other issues that frequently arise are those specifically relating to the artists themselves—fine arts law litigators often represent artists whose work has been stolen (either physically or  as a matter of copyright infringement) or who seek to prevent their prior work from being denigrated or destroyed.

In other instances we provide more pre-emptive advice, and may advise art sellers how they may conduct sales and how to structure their art business transactions.

For example, we may draft an art gallery’s consignment agreement or the terms of sale which appear on each sale invoice.

Other non-litigation art lawyers are trust and estates experts who advise visual artists and their estates on taxation and estate planning matters such as setting up foundations and donating works of art to museums. CG Lawyers can refer you to relevant taxation and estate specialists if required.

Our clients seeking a fine arts law specialist range from art buyers or collectors to art dealers, galleries, and artists themselves. Though many clients seek the advice of their general legal practitioner at first, many disputes are better handled by experts and those who deal with specific fine art related matters. Those matters are best referred to a fine arts law specialist such as CG Lawyers.

For an initial consultation call CG Lawyers at 1300 614 914 or email us at enquiries@cglawyers.com.au.

Fine Arts Law Blog

Useful Links

Viscopy

Viscopy provides licensing services for Australian and New Zealand visual arts members so that their artworks can be reproduced in material like books, websites, advertising, merchandise, exhibition catalogues and more.

AGAA

The Art Galleries Association of Australia (AGAA) is the peak body for commercial art galleries in the primary visual arts market.