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This guide provides an introduction to creditable materials for conducting art law research by using resources available at the Professional Center Library. Additionally, the focus is on general sources dealing with art law rather than narrow topics.
Last Updated: Jan 9, 2014 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

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Michealangelo's Creation of Man

- Michaelangelo's Creation of Sun and Moon

The purpose of this guide is to provide you with an introduction to creditable and well-known resources for conducting art law research.  Given the expansive nature of this field of law, this guide is selective in nature. 

It is not exhaustive in the materials available; however, it focuses on general resources on art law, rather than tailoring the sources to specific subjects, such as trademark or First Amendment. 

Though this guide focuses mainly on U.S. law, it does include select international materials that will help you get started with your research, if you have a need to broaden your research beyond U.S. borders.

With the permission of the author, this guide is significantly based off of Georgetown Law Library's Art Law Research Guide.


Featured Blog: The Art Law Blog

Recent Developments in Art Litigation and Art Finance

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"I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free." — Michelangelo - Creation of Sun and Moon

Art law is multi-dimensional. It is founded in legal theory, in historical aspects, and in complexity driven by moral concerns. The complexity of art law is addressed by Vera Zlatarski in her law review article, "Moral Rights" and Other Moral Interests: Public Art Law in France, Russia, and The United States, 23 Colum.-VLA J.L. & Arts 201 (1999-2000), when she stated:

The fabric of United States public art law is rich, and its strands many, including contract, trademark, tort, property, and takings law, First Amendment doctrine, landmarks and preservation regulations, state as well as federal moral rights statutes, and any number of political checks. It can also be envisioned as a perpetual see-saw, constantly bowing to one then another opposed interest, by definition concerned with resolving conflicts by giving different claims due recognition. Understanding the workings of the American see-saw demonstrates the dangers of tipping the balance too far on the side of the community, just as the strong version of French moral rights illustrates the problems of weighing too heavily in favor of the artist. In the end, the American recognition of a multiplicity of legitimate interests results in continued encouragement for and support of public art.

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An Introduction to Art Law

Cover Art
Art Law in a Nutshell - DuBoff, Leonard D.
Call Number: KF4288.Z9 D8 2006 Location: Permanent Reserve (Circulation)
ISBN: 9780314158789
Publication Date: 2006
Straightforward and concise. This book provides basic information on the major topics in art law but does not contain sample forms or agreements. Topics covered include customs, art and war, business considerations, authentication, tax, intellectual property, freedom of expression, and moral rights.

Cover Art
The Deskbook of Art Law - Leonard D. DuBoff
Call Number: KF4288 .D8 Location: Stacks (Ground and 1st Floor)
ISBN: 0379201577
The Deskbook of Art Law is the most complete resource available for legal matters relating specifically to transacting business in the art world. It offers commentary on the purchase, protection and preservation of fine and applied art. Includes step-by-step instructions on legal and financial issues surrounding forgery, title, misattribution, liens, and many other topics.

Cover Art
Lindey on Entertainment, Publishing and the Arts : Agreements and the Law - Lindey, Alexander
Call Number: KF4290.A6 L54 Location: Ground or 1st Floor Stacks
Multivolume treatise that covers a wide variety of topics in the field of entertainment, publishing, and the arts. It is organized topically by industry, and, in addition to relevant chapters on intellectual property, freedom of expression, and tax, see the chapter on "Art Work."

Finding a Topic

In determining what topic you want to explore, there are a myriad of ways to get started.  You could survey the scene by looking through newsletters, both print and online.  You could browse through art law specific blogs.  Featured art law blogs feed automatically into each page of this libguide.  Or you could locate books on your topic to see what has already been written about by scholars in the area.  Below are a few resources to help you get started.

  • Arts Journal  Icon
    This resource is a digest of daily news stories and events, often termed arts and cultural journalism. This will help you quickly gather a sense of art and culture in the news.
  • The Art Newspaper  Icon
    The Art Newspaper is an investigative newspaper that regularly published breaking news in the art and culture arena. The audience of this newspaper includes museum professionals, collectors, artists, lawyers specialized in cultural property issues, arts administrators, policemen, dealers and auctioneers.
  • Art Daily  Icon
    This organization, founded in 1996, gathers news articles from around the world, collects a host of digital images, provides a daily art crossword puzzle, as well as many other features.
  • Arts and Letters Daily (From the Chronicle of Higher Education)  Icon
    News, reviews, latest trends, breakthroughs, disputes, and gossip in arts and culture.
  • Search the PCL Catalog  Icon  Icon
    By searching the PCL catalog you can survey the publications already written in the area of art law to help you develop topics and areas of interest.

Getting Started

Once you have located a topic for your research, you might want to start with some of the following steps:

  • Determine your research questions.  These questions are typically legal concepts coupled with relevant facts, much like an issue statement.  Your research questions should be broad enough to encompass the full layout of the law, and narrow enough to identify all the relevant issues.  Developing your research questions is a dynamic process that will be modified throughout your research.
  • Develop key words and topics of interest.  Develop the search strategies you want to implement in your research.  Ask yourself: Do you want to start with print or electroinc resources?  Evaluate the benefits of both and then determine the appropriate resource.
  • If you determine that starting with print resources is the best approach for your topic, you might want to look for relevant books written on your subject.  You can search our books by subject.  For example, here are few subject headings you might search for:
    • Art -- Collectors and Collecting 
    • Art Thefts
    • Artists -- Legal status, law, etc -- United States
    • Artists' Contracts -- United States
    • Copyright -- Art -- United States
    • Cultural Property -- Protection
    • Law and art
    • Law and art -- United States
    • Museums -- law and legislation -- United States
  • If you determine starting your research online, you might consider the types of search queries you would look for (natural language v. terms and connectors v. table of contents browsing).
  • Get help from the Reference Librarians.  We are here to help you formulate your research strategy and find resources that might be useful in writing your seminar papers.  Feel free to ask questions at the Reference Desk or give us a call.  You can always schedule an individual appointment with one of the Reference Librarians that are profiled here on Libguides. The Reference Desk phone number is (336) 758-4520.
  • Legal Dictionaries and Thesauri WFU Libguide  Icon
    The purpose of this guide is to help researchers locate general and subject-specific legal dictionaries and thesauri. Additionally, this guide provides helpful insight on how to effectively use these resources in legal research.
  • Getting Started on WestlawNext (E-Book)  Icon  Icon
    Computer-assisted legal research opens the door to an ever-expanding online library with which you will become familiar with as you move past your casebooks and hornbooks. No single research technique is right for every situation, and this e-book explores the tools and features available through WestlawNext
  • Westlaw Research Guide for Law Students (E-Book)  Icon  Icon
    In law school and in law practice, it is essential to have comprehensive, current and accurate information available. It is just as essential to develop research skills that allow you to find that information quickly. This e-book will help you perform your research efficiently using Westlaw.
  • Glossary for Legal Research Basics  Icon
    This glossary of terms is limited in scope and the definitions of words are restricted in meaning to their legal or legal research context. Words whose meanings conform to general usage and are obvious are omitted from the list.
  • Legal Citation 101 WFU Libguide  Icon
    This guide primarily refers to The Bluebook, the standard guide for legal citations. When appropriate, however, it refers to supplemental sources of information. This guide breaks down the Bluebook rules in citing primary sources of law, secondary sources, international and foreign sources, and other common sources.
  • The Professional Center Library 101  Icon
    This Libguide introduces the Professional Center Library to students, faculty and staff. It includes the services we provide as well as a virtual tour.
  • Complete Your Research in 3 Easy Steps at LexisNexis  Icon
    This guide goes through a 3 step process to conduct your legal research starting with Step 1: Starting Your Research Assignment, Step 2: Be Confident Your Case is Good Law with Shepards, and ending with Step 3: Use Related Content to Ensure Your Research in Comprehensive.
  • Area of Law Resources available on LexisNexis  Icon
    Enhance your understanding of key issues or cases with analysis from treatises cited by more courts than any others, including Moore's Federal Practice, Corbin on Contracts, Weinstein's Evidence, and other leading sources. Link directly to selected treatises below and search for issues or browse the Table of Contents to get started.
  • Quick Tips For Law Students  Icon
    This quick tip guide helps users navigate LexisAdvance.
  • Search the PCL Catalog  Icon  Icon
    By searching the PCL catalog you can survey the publications already written in the area of art law to help you develop topics and areas of interest.

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