Many artists here in New York and elsewhere assume that copyright protection is only for authors or musicians, but that is untrue. Artists of all mediums may be able to make use of copyright law to protect their creative works. This may even include murals done on the sides of buildings, as one out-of-state artist says. She claims that city officials will be in violation of copyright law by painting over a mural she did almost 30 years ago.
Artist Gina Carrera painted a rain forest mural on the side of a building in 1992. In 2009, the city covered over it with a series of panels that depicted several prominent local historical figures. Today, there is a great deal of controversy around the panelled piece, called “Everyone Loves a Parade!” as it depicts mostly white people and critics say it is not representative of the true heritage of the area. Carrera says she has expressed interest in either reviving her mural underneath the panels or by painting something entirely new.
She also says that she still retains the rights to her mural under the Visual Artists Rights Act. The VARA prevents artistic works of recognized stature from being destroyed or damaged, which she says painting over her mural would do. Representatives for the city say that the city has final say, but that they are open to Carerra offering her opinion along with the rest of the public.
Though only time will tell how this particular case turns out, it shows just how important it can be for visual artists to obtain the copyright for their artistic works. Artists who are unsure of how copyright law can help them may want to reach out to an attorney here in New York. An attorney can advise artists in all mediums of how to preserve and protect their work.