Paul L. Caron

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

2nd Circuit To Decide Whether Vermont Law School Can Cover Underground Railroad Murals Against Artist's Wishes

Vermont MuralFollowing up on my previous posts (links below), Bloomberg Law, Law School’s Covering of Slavery Murals Probed by 2nd Cir.:

Vermont Law School found a somewhat receptive Second Circuit as it defended a ruling allowing it to permanently cover murals depicting the Underground Railroad without violating an artists’ rights law.

Artist Samuel Kerson argued that the school hiding his two 1994 murals behind bolted-in acoustic panels violated the Visual Artists Rights Act, or VARA, during Friday’s oral argument at the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. But the school says it complied with the law when it hid murals that students complained about for decades as “cartoonish” depictions of slaves and promotion of the “white savior complex.”

The dispute raises questions regarding how far VARA limits the property rights of the owners of their physical art, and the reach of exceptions written into the law. The US District Court for the District of Vermont’s ruling said that “no court has ruled that VARA protects the artist’s interest in keeping his art visible or on display.”

Prior TaxProf Blog coverage:

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