While artists need not be legal scholars, there are a few fundamental principles they can embrace to prevent legal problems from creeping into their artwork. I discuss some of those principles as a guest on the ArtMarketingNews.com blog. Here is a brief summary of the tips I shared:

Be Aware of the Most Significant Art-Related Laws. As part of their creative process, artists should consider if their work raises any copyright, trademark, privacy and defamation issues – as well as whether the First Amendment’s protection for artistic expression offers them any leeway in those areas.

Heed the Fine Line between Legal Inspiration and Infringing Copying. An artist’s duplication of another artist’s idea or concept is copyright-permissible. Duplication of another’s artistic expression in rendering that idea or that concept is not. However, it is not always clear where the idea ends and the expression begins.

Know When Taking Photos in Public Goes Too Far. Even though photographers have wide latitude to take photos in public, there are situations in which taking photos in public might be problematic. Aggressive paparazzi behavior is one of them.

Understand How You Can Depict Real People in Your Artwork. The permissibility of publishing images of other people depends on whose image you have and how you want to use the image. I offer some general guidelines and examples to determine which uses are permissible and which uses are not.

Understand How You Can Depict Products in Your Artwork. Companies can react negatively to the unauthorized appearance of their brands, products, and trademarks in media. Courts have sanctioned the unauthorized appearance of products in artistic photography when the use is for social commentary and is not misleading. In contrast, an unauthorized product appearance in a commercial context can have dire legal and financial consequences on the unauthorized user.