What Copyright Attorneys and Artists Need to Know About VARA (Visual Artists Rights Act of 1990)

When: September 18, 2019 at 12:00pm - 2:00pm EDT - This event has passed

What Copyright Attorneys and Artists Need to Know About VARA (Visual Artists Rights Act of 1990)



In 2018, a federal court awarded graffiti artists in Queens, New York $6.7 million for the destruction of their work under the Visual Artists Rights Act (“VARA”). What do copyright attorneys and visual artists need to know about this rarely tested but potent section of United States copyright law? This panel will provide a hands-on and practical discussion of what you need to know about VARA directly from one of America’s leading muralists, Dr. Judith Baca, and attorneys who have been in the courtroom and negotiated agreements addressing VARA’s exceptional treatment of works of visual art. Panelists will contribute their own personal anecdotes, drafting tips, a demonstration of how murals can be moved, and of course a visually stunning overview of the art in question.  

Program will satisfy 1.5 CA CLE credits pending approval by the State Bar of California.


Lisa Borodkin Twitter: lisaborodkin
Lisa Borodkin is the founder and principal of Lisa Borodkin, Entertainment and IP Law Group, a boutique entertainment and intellectual property law firm. Her clients include Anshutz Entertainment Group, Inc., AEG Global Partnerships, Fresh TV, Inc., Sound Talent Group, BWG, toy creators, animators and others creating visual art and experiences. 

At Harvard University, Lisa earned a bachelor’s degree cum laude in Visual and Environmental Studies, concentrating in studio art. Lisa earned a Master’s Degree in History of Art at the University of London’s Courtauld Institute of Art, specializing in French and British 19th century painting. 

At Columbia University School of Law, Lisa interned at the International Foundation of Art Research, working with the FBI and Interpol to recover stolen art and authenticate disputed works. Lisa’s Columbia Law Review note, “The Economics of Antiquities Looting and a Proposed Legal Alternative,” 95 Colum. L. Rev. 377 (1995), is frequently cited in international publications regarding stolen art and cultural patrimony.

Lisa clerked for the Hon. Diane P. Wood in the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit and the Hon. I. Leo Glasser in United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York. As a civil litigator, Lisa’s representative matters include Shapiro v. Hasbro, Inc. (toy litigation relating to My Little Pony), WB Music Inc. v. Future Today (copyright litigation involving over the top streaming service), litigation against Ripoff Report, and assisting King, Holmes, Paterno & Soriano LLP in aspects of Williams v. Bridgeport (the “Blurred Lines” case). 

Lisa is a member of the planning committee of the Copyright Society of the USA, Los Angeles chapter, and is a member of the Television Academy of Arts and Sciences. She is also a visual artist, currently focusing on oil painting.



Dr. Judith F. Baca
One of America’s leading visual artists, Dr. Judith F. Baca has been creating public art for three decades. Powerful in size and subject matter, Baca’s murals bring art to where people live and work. In 1974, Baca founded the City of Los Angeles’ first mural program, which produced over 400 murals and employed thousands of local participants. She is the co-founder and Artistic Director of the Social and Public Art Resource Center (SPARC), which promotes social justice and participatory public arts projects. She is an emeritus Professor of the University of California Los Angeles, where she was a senior professor in Chicana/o Studies and World Art and Cultures Departments from 1980 until 2018. In 2003, Baca was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship. Most recently, Baca received the Distinguished Alumni Award at CSUN and was named the Rockefeller Fellow for the USA Artist Fellowship in 2016.

Brooke Oliver, Founder, 50 Balmy Law, P.C. 

“Law in the service of soul” is how one client described Brooke Oliver’s practice. Twenty-five years ago, she founded and still manages a refined small law firm supporting creative ventures and artists. It provides incisive representation in art, entertainment, copyright, trademark, and nonprofit matters.  

Oliver is a seasoned and successful litigator, with federal appellate court and U.S. Supreme Court affirmations of her copyright and trademark cases. She is often sought and quoted by major media, and is recognized internationally as one of the leading art lawyers in the United States.  She A-V rated as “preeminent” by Martindale-Hubbell and was named a 2019 Northern California Super Lawyer, a distinction reserved for only 5% of the Attorneys in Northern California.   

Oliver’s particular legal expertise is in hybrid nonprofit/for profit ventures, art, and large cultural event production law. Oliver has represented nonprofit organizations through their life cycles, from formation, securing tax-exempt status, operation, governance, and dissolution, and was the architect of Burning Man’s nonprofit infrastructure.  

Oliver is recognized as a pioneer in the fields of public art, murals, and new media art law. She has represented visual artists in all aspects of their creative lives, including as agent and publisher. Oliver represents major entertainment and event production organizations as outside General Counsel, including the San Francisco World Music Festival and Anime Expo. Oliver’s clients have included the United Farm Workers Union, Cesar E. Chavez Foundation, Dolores Huerta, Burning Man, San Francisco Pride, Princess Cruises, Sony, Loco Bloco, Up Urban, the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus, and numerous nonprofits, artists, and authors.  She has represented the estates of Jerry Garcia, John Lennon, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Frank Sinatra, other music legends, and 9/11 families in publicity rights matters.

Oliver is admitted to practice in California, the Northern, Central and Eastern Federal District Courts, the 9th Circuit, the Federal Circuit, and the Supreme Court. Notable cases include: Matal v. Tam, 137 S. Ct.1744 (2017) (filed Amicus Brief at the US Supreme Court urging the court to find unconstitutional the USPTO’s ability to decline to register a mark on the grounds that it is “derogatory.” Bissoon-Dath v. Sony Computer Entertainment America Inc., 694 F. Supp 2d 1071 (N.D. Cal. 2010) aff’d 653 F. 3d 898 (9th Cir. 2011) (defended Sony and game developers in Greek Myth copyright case); McDermott v. San Francisco Women’s Motorcycle Contingent, 240 Fed. Appx. 865 (Fed. Cir. 2007) cert denied 552 U.S. 1109 (USSC 2008)(won trademark registration of controversial mark), and Campusano v. Cort (No. C98-3001-MJJ) (N.D. Cal. 1998) (won mandatory injunction to restore mural).

She is a respected legal scholar and author on Art Law.  She sits on the Calle 24 Council and, the Latino Community Advisory Board of the Latino Historical Society and San Francisco Heritage.  She has received a Certificate of Honor from San Francisco and a Certificate of Recognition from the California State Senate for outstanding service to the LGBT Community.  Oliver was sainted by the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, and is an honorary patch holder in Dykes on Bikes (though she does not ride).  She is a member of the ABA, the S.F. Intellectual Property Association, BALIF, and BASF.  She was the Editor-In-Chief of her law school law review and graduated in the top ten of her class.

Aaron Benmark 
Aaron joined Durie Tangri LLP after a clerkship with the Honorable Frederic Block of the Eastern District of New York.

He received his J.D. from the University of California, Irvine School of Law, where he graduated summa cum laude. While at UCI Law, he was awarded Best Oral Argument in the school’s 2014-15 moot court competition and served as the Vice President of the Bench Brief Committee for the 2015-2016 competition. He also worked in the Intellectual Property, Arts, and Technology clinic, where he helped represent a coalition of filmmakers and e-book authors in Digital Millennium Copyright Act proceedings before the Copyright Office, worked as a research assistant for Professor Ann Southworth, and did pro bono work for the Legal Aid Society for Orange County, Eviction Defense Clinic, and Services for the Homeless and Those on the Verge. He served as Vice President of Publications in the Entertainment Law Society and was the recipient of the Los Angeles Copyright Society’s 2015-16 Paul Miller Scholarship Award.

Christine Steiner
Christine Steiner is an experienced art law attorney whose practice emphasizes visual arts, intellectual property, publishing, and general business transactions. She has been recognized consistently by Best Lawyers, the prestigious national legal peer-ranking organization for her expertise and contributions to Art Law. 

Ms. Steiner represents living artists, artists’ estates and foundations, art galleries, art collectors, museums and cultural organizations, arts foundations, creative businesses, universities, living writers and writers’ estates, publishers, and other diverse creative clients. 

Christine Steiner held a variety of legal and policy positions within cultural and educational institutions before she entered private practice. These include Secretary and General Counsel, J. Paul Getty Trust; Assistant General Counsel, Smithsonian Institution; Assistant Attorney General of Maryland for state colleges and universities; and Principal Counsel of the Maryland state public education system.

She is also an adjunct professor of law at Loyola Law School, where she teaches visual arts law and has served as a visiting professor of international art law in law school programs in Florence, Italy, and Cambridge, England.

Her writing includes many publications of value to the visual arts field including books and articles on art law, copyright, public art commissions and other art-related topics. Her writings regularly contribute to policy discussions of intellectual property in the arts and publishing communities.

Ms. Steiner is a frequent lecturer on museum topics, with an emphasis on copyright issues. She has addressed numerous national and international conferences, including presentations to the International Bar Association, the World Intellectual Property Organization, The American Bar Association, and the National Association of College and University Attorneys and other organizations and conferences. She serves on the Editorial Board of the Journal of the Copyright Society of the USA. Christine Steiner is an honors graduate of Johns Hopkins University (BA) and an honors graduate of the University of Maryland (JD).


Members: $25
Student Members: 
$20  |  Must present valid student ID at the door

Please note: Affordable parking is available across the street in the Westfield Mall’s Constellation/Solar parking lot. Fox Rothschild cannot validate parking.

CLE Credit Details

Program will satisfy 1.5 CA CLE credits pending approval by the State Bar of California.

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