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Recent Conference in Atlanta Highlights the Importance of Online and Digital Technologies in Art Law Practice

While “new media” (as the Internet is frequently referred) is far from new, the rapid evolution of online and digital technologies has created a wealth of new opportunities and new challenges for artists and their lawyers. Digital capture and transfer of images is revolutionizing the arts worlds; websites, digital archives, webcasts, blogs, and participatory ‘net’ art and exhibits represent new ways for artists, arts organizations, and the public to engage each other. But these developments have also raised questions about how to delineate rights to expressions of intangible ideas in complex artworks, as well as traditional paradigms of licensing, copyright, and what constitutes infringement. Lawyers around the country are working to inform artists about the best ways to protect their rights in order to help them do what they do best–create art.

In her new book, New Technology and the Market for Visual Art, Lisa F. Moore–Atlanta art lawyer and adjunct professor at Emory Law School–describes how the advent of the Internet is changing the art market:

“With the advent of the Internet, each and every medium through which content is created or disseminated has experienced a simultaneous renaissance and attendant struggle as the law valiantly, but often ineffectually, attempts to contain the explosive and uncontrollable expansion of the digital age… New technology and the prevalence of online galleries and virtual art fairs have ushered in an era of unfettered access to the visual arts market previously out of reach to all but those inhabiting the upper echelons of society.”
In early May, Moore helped arrange a conference together with Georgia Lawyers for the Arts and the Copyright Society of the USA entitled “Visual Arts and the Law: Cutting Edge Legal Issues for Museums, Galleries, Artists, and Arts Administrators” at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta. The day-long event featured several lectures about legal issues in the arts right now, including, “Appropriation Art, Fair Use, and the Intersection of the First Amendment and the US Copyright Act.” Moore has explained that with the ever-changing business landscape, creative artists must increasingly seek guidance from specialized professionals to assist with building and protecting their online brand and community presence.
Moore’s work and the recent conference drive home the point that, given the proliferation of online and digital technologies combined with the unpredictability of art world litigation, art lawyers today must equip themselves with knowledge of the challenges and possibilities the Internet to best advise their clients.