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Notes & Comments


Congress passed the Visual Artists Rights Act (“VARA”) in 1990, introducing the doctrine of moral rights into United States law. Moral rights consist of four rights: attribution, disclosure, withdrawal, and integrity. VARA recognizes the rights of attribution and integrity to preserve the integrity of artworks and of the country’s cultural heritage by encouraging artists to create. The passing of VARA has been met with criticism but also with excitement that Congress recognized the importance of artists’ non‌-economic rights. In the thirty‌-one years since the enactment of VARA, caselaw has developed that shows how courts and parties are interpreting its language. One main issue with VARA as written is that there is a lack of guidance in interpreting the standards, which has created some judicial confusion. If Congress were to amend VARA to provide more guiding language, it would give courts a clear and detailed framework when interpreting it. While some degree of flexibility must be maintained, additional guiding language would further promote VARA’s purpose and ensures fairness.



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