Art Law Report

Did Philadelphia Inadvertently Step on First Amendment and VARA in Painting Over Cosby Mural?

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on July 28, 2015 at 12:46 PM

Few things have brought consensus recently more than the revulsion over the allegations against comedian Bill Cosby, a Philadelphia native. Yet in a desire to distance itself from Cosby, the city may have crossed a First Amendment line when a well-known mural entitled “Father’s Day” that depicts Cosby was painted over. And even if the city did not run afoul of that constitutional protection, the artist of the mural may have had under the Visual Artists Rights Act of 1990, 17 U.S.C. § 106A (VARA) rights too. Ultimately it will come down to whether the artist or artists object to the fact or the timing of the removal—an objection that would not necessarily be any endorsement or support of Cosby (or have anything at all to do with Cosby), but which might relate more to the right of expression.

Read More

Topics: Philadelphia Inquirer, King Jr., Philadelphia, Visual Artists Rights Act of 1990, Martin Luther, VARA, Philadelphia City Mural Arts Program, Temple University, University of Massachusetts, 17 U.S.C. § 106A, Nelson Mandela, Bill Cosby, The Washington Post, First Amendment

Legal Issues in Museum Administration, March 19-21, 2014 in Philadelphia

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on February 13, 2014 at 4:25 AM

Registration is open for the annual Legal Issues in Museum Administration conference organized by the American Law Institute’s Continuing Legal Education. Year after year, this conference brings together top practitioners and museum professionals for important updates and presentations, and always engaging discussions. Hope to see you there.

Read More

Topics: Henry S. (Harry) Bryans, Smithsonian Institution, Brendan Connell Jr., India Pinkney, The Frick Collection, Jiyun Cameron Lee, The Barnes Foundation, Dallas Museum of Art, Marianna Horton Mermin, Lawrence H. Berger, Robert W. Clarida, Alison Lonshein, James B. Pritchard Professor of Archaeology, Philadelphia Museum of Art, University of Miami School of Law, American Alliance of Museums, Stephen W. Clark, Library of Congress, Stephen K. Urice, Yayoi Shionoiri, Michael J. Cooney, Lauryn H. Guttenplan, Karen Coe, Julie Hart, Roger I. Ideishi, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Marsha Shaines, Cristina Del Valle, Judith E. Leonard, Eryn Starun, Penn Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, Nicholas S. Holmes, Temple University, Sara Geelan, The J. Paul Getty Trust, John R. Cahill, Events, Jonathan A. Segal, Rachelle Browne, University of Pennsylvania, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, The Franklin Institute, Adine Varah, Eric J. Snyder, City and County of San Francisco, C. Brian Rose, National Endowment for the Arts, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Maxwell L. Anderson, Whitney Museum of American Art, Larry Dubinski, Leslie Johnston, Farleigh Earhart

About the Blog


The Art Law Report provides timely updates and commentary on legal issues in the museum and visual arts communities.

Meet the Editor

Learn more about our Art & Museum Law practice

Subscribe to Blog

Posts by Topic

see all