A Matter of Life or Death: The Visual Artists Rights Act and the Problem of Postmortem Moral Rights


Congress passed the Visual Artists Rights Act (VARA) in 1990 with hopes that a national system of moral rights would serve the purposes of (1) complying with the Berne Convention; (2) providing a uniform system of moral rights protections; (3) guaranteeing personal moral rights; and (4) encouraging art preservation. However, because VARA does not continue to provide consistent nationwide moral rights after the death of the artist, the scope of postmortem moral rights varies from state to state and from artist to artist. In this Comment, the author argues that this variation in moral rights protection is inequitable and is also unjustified in light of the purposes of moral rights in general and VARA in particular. Extending VARA to include postmortem moral rights is probably the best solution to this problem and would be a valuable step towards a truly coherent tradition of moral rights in the United States.

About the Author

Articles Editor, UCLA Law Review, Volume 51. J.D. candidate, UCLA School of Law 2004; B.A., Tufts University, 2000.

By uclalaw