Chicago Senior Counsel Scott Hodes was quoted August 3 in the Observer regarding the 1990 Visual Artists Rights Act (VARA), an amendment to the federal Copyright Act originally created to put the U.S. in compliance with the Berne Convention, the international law that protects the copyrights of artists. VARA’s narrow definition of art limits its protection to traditional media, such as paintings, sculptures and photographic prints. A recent court decision in Nevada ruled that the destruction of La Contessa, a school bus transformed into a 16th century Spanish galleon by two artists, was not a violation of VARA because the piece remains utilitarian in nature, rather than a work of art. The decision raises the question of whether VARA should be rewritten to account for a broader definition of art. “What is considered art today is far more expansive than in 1990,” Hodes said. “Picasso’s ceramics are considered works of art. But plates and saucers he designed are used at the dining room table, thereby being transformed into utilitarian objects. If Picasso had lived today would these plates and saucers be VARA protected?” To read the full article, click here.