Copyright law: Artist sues art collective

When New York artists sell a piece they've created, it is often a wonderful moment of celebration. Their hard work and determination has finally paid off, both financially and professionally. If a company or entity that purchases the art fails to properly compensate the artist, it can be financially devastating. Copyright law gives artists the means to legally protect their work. One artist decided to file suit against an art collective for this very reason, claiming it exploited her work.

The artist created original sketches of a character known as "Space Owl"around 14 years ago. She says she joined an emerging art collective, called "Meow Wolf" and her Space Owl was the inspiration for a large art installation in one of Meow Wolf's exhibits. The artist claims the collective promised her artist revenue shares if the collective became successful. She says the company went on to use images of Space Owl in merchandise without her permission. She also says she received no additional compensation for the usage of the character.

The artist also says that the collective tried to force her to sell Space Owl for a low amount by threatening to remove her from the collective if she didn't. She decided to file a copyright infringement and breach of contract lawsuit. The artist believes that her work has made others in the collective very wealthy, but that she only received $2,000 for her work. 

Though the outcome of this particular case is uncertain, it shows just how imperative it is for artists to protect their work. A copyright law attorney can work with an artist to help ensure that artistic works are legally protected and to pursue instances where copyright has been violated. It can seem daunting, but there are ways for New York artists to protect their creations.

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