This Note focuses on the protection of collections of street art under the Visual Artists Rights Act of 1990 (“VARA”). It centers on the recent litigation surrounding 5Pointz, a complex of unused industrial buildings in Long Island City, Queens, New York, that were used to exhibit works of street art by many well-known street artists. Since 2002, the site was used by artists to exhibit their works with the permission of the property owner and an appointed curator. In November 2013, several of the 5Pointz artists filed a claim in district court to prevent the planned destruction of 5Pointz to make way for high-rise residential condominiums. This Note uses 5Pointz as a jumping off point to offer two proposals that address certain shortcomings of VARA as applied to street art. The first proposal is an alternate test to determining whether certain works of visual art are protected from destruction under VARA. The second proposal is a minor amendment to the statute that would add protection for complete sites of street art as “collective works.” In leading up to these proposals, this Note summarizes VARA’s provisions and pertinent case law to provide an understanding of VARA’s current scope. This Note then summarizes the 5Pointz opinion and the potential direction of future VARA case law. This Note finally discusses several relevant shortcomings of VARA and arguments for and against modifying the statute, followed by the two proposals.
The Saga Of 5Pointz: VARA's Deficiency In Protecting Notable Collections Of Street Art,
35 Loy. L.A. Ent. L. Rev. 281
Available at: https://digitalcommons.lmu.edu/elr/vol35/iss3/2