Three Legal Issues Faced by Artists Today

Artists legal issues

Artists focus on creating works and cultivating their art. Their studios are filled with canvases and paint or sculpting hammers and clay. They rarely contain a stack of law books. 

However, artists are often exploited because they are not prepared to navigate the legal hazards typical in their profession. We will explore three legal issues that artists commonly face and how to take steps to put a proactive and well-thought-out strategy in place. The result is peace of mind and greater quantity and quality of time for artists to create and grow — their business and as an artistic professional.


1. Corporate Entity Creation 

Many artists view themselves as self-employed, and they may not realize how their personal assets could be at risk. Further, there is an art to setting up a business, and options include sole proprietorships, LLCs, and corporations. The pros and cons of each need to be evaluated and weighed for the individual, including the number of business owners, if capital needs to be raised or investors brought in, personal liability for debts, tax benefits, and control over your business as an artist. 


2. Know Your Copyright Rights 

A copyright helps to protect the creator of a work. This could be an original literary, dramatic, musical, or  artistic work. The copyright protection is provided by the laws of the United States and is automatic. This means once a work is created, it is protected by copyright, which helps the artist profit from their works by making and distributing copies, performing or displaying their work publicly, and more. Artists can best protect their works and intellectual property by understanding the laws and proper steps for protection and to fully leverage copyright benefits. 


3. Third-Party Releases 

In their works, if an artist uses images or subject matter that belong to a third party, a release stating explicitly where and how it may be used is necessary. Also, knowing when to discuss releases and how to properly obtain them is critical. Likewise, an artist should understand the implications of agreeing to a release for their own works to prevent misunderstanding or loss of copyright protection or revenue. 


MLG is committed to serving and supporting artists. Our “Art Elevates” initiative promotes local emerging artists, and our firm is active the local art community through programs, such as “The Art of Healing” at Florida CraftArt, the Coalition of Hispanic Artists, and “Letters From Anne and Martin.” Look for future installments about how artists can grow their business and increase their impact on our community by having successful legal and business strategies in place.

If you seek help with corporate entity creation or copyright law, the lawyers at MLG are experienced and ready to support you and make the process easy. For more information, schedule a consultation today.


The above is intended to inform firm clients and friends about recent developments in the law, including analysis of statutes and new case decisions. This update should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion, and readers should not act upon the information contained herein without seeking the advice of legal counsel.   

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