Book Review: Research Handbook on Art and Law

Having worked for a legal aid organization that serves the arts community in my state, this Kat has learned that the intersection of arts and law provides a variety of unique insights and challenges. Thus, it is a pleasure to present Research Handbook on Art and Law from Edward Elgar Publishing.

Edited by Jani McCutcheon and Fiona McGaughey, two legal scholars from the University of Western Australia, the book offers insightful research into the intersection of art and law, primarily from the perspective of common law countries. The book seeks to bridge the gap between visual arts and the law, including intellectual property and laws regulating free expression.

The book, comprising 25 chapters arranged in 10 parts, provides the collected perspectives of a variety of scholars in intellectual property law, human rights law, philosophy, criminology, and the arts. The book begins in Part I, entitled Copyright's Rights in Art, with a discussion concerning the scope of copyright. The first chapter by editor Jani McCutcheon is an exploration of the adaptation right and picturization; this concerns the authors of text-based works regarding the adaptation into a visual form. In the next chapter, Eva Subotnik presents the merits of the succession of copyright after the life of the author.

Part II addresses Copyright's Regulation of Art, juxtaposing copyright law with the practices of visual artists. Chris Dent considers the effects of regulation through the lens of three visual artists, finding that they are not as important as one may expect. In chapter 4, Jonathan Barrett offers that a recognition of the heterogeneity of art on the part of intellectual property law could afford greater coherence between the two regimes. Julian R. Murphy and Nicholas Modrzewski complete the section in chapter 5 with a discussion of Richard Prince's disavowal of his work comprising Ivanka Trump's Instagram feed.

Part III considers The Outer Boundaries of Art in Law. In chapter 6, Alana Kushnir addresses the potential copyright that could be afforded to art museum curators for their creative expression. Michael Blakeney explores the potential overlap between copyright and patent law when fine art techniques are patented as methods of manufacture in the next chapter. Amanda Scardamaglia considers the intersection of trademarks and copyright in art and advertising in chapter 7, with a discussion of the historical process of lithography. This part concludes with a discussion of the protection of colors through intellectual property regimes by Ema Denby, Paul Green-Armytage, and editor Jani McCutcheon.

Part IV raises the issues of forgery, fraud, and misrepresentation, presenting the ways in which laws are Regulating 'Bad' Art. In chapter 10, Jade Lindley discusses how technological progress can address the issues posed by forgeries in art. In the next chapter, Dan Mossenson considers the effectiveness of Australia's legal system regarding fraud and misrepresentation in art, particularly concerning aboriginal art.

Part V addresses Art, Law and the Public Interest, presenting the effect that legal classifications and competing interests may have on art. First, in chapter 12, Enrico Bonadio considers the balance of interests in preserving street art and graffiti. Marta Iljadica explores how the classification of art as a material thing, removed from intellectual property, presents a distinct set of issues concerning the public interest, particularly as it relates to UK property law.

Part VI considers art's treatment of law, in Art Critiquing or Girding Legal Systems. This part begins with chapter 14, in which Desmond Manderson discusses Rafael Cauduro's 7 Crimines Mayores. The mural, which stands inside of the Supreme Court of the Nation of Mexico in Mexico City, is a model for how art can force the justice system to contend with its own injustice. In chapter 15, Ben Wardle considers how legal iconography, in particular, "Lady Justice" can help maintain the relationships of domination and oppression by equating legality and legal outcomes with justice and morality.

Part VII considers the artistic output of the interplay of Law in Art. First, Shane Burke explores a variety of law-based works, where intellectual property law serves as either a medium of expression or a driving force behind the expression. In chapter 17, editor Jani McCutcheon explores the legacy of Australia's application of terra nullius to aboriginal lands through aboriginal artist Sharyn Egan's The Nullians. This part of the book concludes with Ruth Herz' chapter on visual arts produced by legal minds, including Judge Pierre Cavellat and law professor Werner Gephart. 

I See Red Artistic Impression
Part VIII addresses one of the shortcomings of the legal field regarding art: the Multiplicity of Interpretations. In chapter 19, Sonia K. Katyal presents the issues that arise at the intersection of the complex, conceptual artistic projects of Felix Gonzalez-Torres and the limitations of intellectual property law. In the final chapter of this part, Lee Harrop and Nicolas J. Bullot discuss how differing interpretations of art led to the decommissioning of a state-commissioned artwork in Western Australia, I See Red.

Part IX addresses the interrelations of Art, Law, Violence, and Crime. In chapter 21, editor Fiona McGaughey discusses the intersection of law and murals in the Northern Ireland conflict, presenting the fascinating concept of murals as paralaw. Natalie Linda Jones considers how art removes abortion from law and presents it beyond the legal context in the next chapter. In chapter 23, Gregory Dale presents the artist turned criminal, noting that the emotions evoked in the audience may lead to the condemnation of the artist or celebration in spite of the crimes. 

Part X concludes the book with a discussion of Art in International Law. Sarah Joseph discusses the relationship between art, freedom of expression, and international human rights law in chapter 24. To conclude the book in chapter 25, Alice Palmer considers how rhetorical use of photographs in the Whaling in the Antarctic case before the International Court of Justice may have affected the case. 

In conclusion, this book provides a variety of valuable and thought-provoking discussions on several considerations in art and law. The book is a pleasure to read, offering practitioners an outside-the-box perspective on many issues that their artistic clients may present. Despite the largely Australian perspective, students and scholars across the world can more easily engage in crucial dialogue about art and law with this handbook. 

Published by: Edward Elgar Publishing - Click here to purchase
ISBN: 9781788971461
eISBN: 9781788971478
Hardcover Price: £180.00
E-book Price: £48.00
Extent: 464 pages
Publication Date: 2020

Book Review: Research Handbook on Art and Law Book Review: Research Handbook on Art and Law Reviewed by Thomas Key on Monday, March 23, 2020 Rating: 5

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