Art law is a specialty area of law that handles issues relating to how works of art should be valued, protected, intellectual property rights, free speech, authenticating and dealing with stolen artworks. Art law also deals with business related issues that occur within the art industry.
Valuation of art is important when addressing issues of taxation and when art is left in a will. Valuation will also play a role when looking into insurance claims disputes and when art is used as collateral for a loan. Valuation is also important when art is gifted as an art collection or piece to a nonprofit or a museum. This is mainly because the donor will want to ensure that what they are donating is recognized and of value, while the organization will require an accurate valuation for taxation, insurance and ensuring they retain not-for-profit status.
Art can also require Intellectual property interests to protect the copyrights and to understand if a piece was created independently or as work for hire. Issues arise when it is unsure if a work is illegally copied. When artwork is moved from its original installation, issues such as depreciation and damage can also arise.
Art law also deals with free speech and will consider if a work of art is art or obscene. Other times issues can arise if a work of art is a violation of another law.
It is important to consider the basic aspects of art law if you are buying and selling art or looking at investing in expensive pieces of art for personal use.