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Art and Artists and the Law


What do local artists do if they need legal or business advice? They do what everyone else does, they read, research, organize, schmooze, and of course, check out what their local libraries have on tap.

I’ve compiled this list of resources for Portland-metro area (and some for further afield). If you know of others that would be useful referrals, let me know. Art law encompasses a vast range of subjects including copyright, property law, international law, censorship, environmental law, sales, taxation, etc., etc., etc., and I couldn’t begin to cover most let alone all of these subejcts. But you have to start somewhere, so, with apologies to Jackie Gleason, “And away we go!”

Primary Sources of Law, e.g. statutes and case law:

Statutes: the Oregon Revised Statutes (ORS): you can begin looking under Art and Artists in the Index and then try other words that are relevant to your specific research.

Case law: researching case law needs to be done in a law library or on a legal database with full-text searching capability. There are no free full-text legal databases that allow thorough full-text searching of all state and federal law (though there are some low-cost ones and some state-specific ones, e.g. California has a free and searchable caselaw database), so contact your local law library (state, county, or academic) and ask what legal research resources they have that you could use free of charge.

Resources on Art Law Generally

Lots of books have been written on art law so check your local public library catalog. If you have a law library near you, especially a large public one or a law school library, you will likely find several titles.


With some legal questions, it never hurts and is often wise to talk to a lawyer. You have a number of of ways to find a lawyer who could help you. In no particular order:

Northwest Lawyers and Artists Oregon Lawyers for the Arts, Kohel Haver, President, 621 SW Morrison Street Suite 1417, Portland, OR (contact information from Starving Artists)

Regional Arts & Culture Council holds workshops, e.g. in April there was one on Artists’ Legal Issues

Oregon Arts Commission

Graphic Artists Guild of Portland, Oregon

Oregon Society of Artists

The Oregon State Bar: OSB Information and Referral Service


Small Business Legal Clinic

TACS and Nonprofit Association of Oregon

Contact Information