Author - Steve Schlackman

As a photographer and Patent Attorney with a background in marketing, Steve has a unique perspective on art and law. Should you have any questions on Intellectual Property contact him at [email protected] His photography can be seen online at or on display at the Emmanuel Fremin Gallery in New York City.

Corporate Law

Three Steps for Using LinkedIn to Grow Your Art Business

Just like any other startup, opening a successful art business benefits greatly from knowing the right people. For those creative people starting solo or small businesses, access to industry leaders, art attorneys, gallery owners, media publishers and others can help ensure their success. Unfortunately, startups as new entities in the industry, have not been around long enough to interact with...

Angry Birds
Intellectual Property

Advice for Artists in a Contract Negotiation

Making a deal to bring an artist’s work to the wider world can be nerve-wracking especially during the contract negotiation phase when the artist is pitted against a team of corporate lawyers. Too often, the artist doesn’t have enough money to hire a legal team to fight for contract terms on his or her behalf. The result is a lopsided agreement that...

Gillian Street Art Infringement
Intellectual Property

Terry Gilliam Sued by Street Artists

Did the AholSniffsGlue lawsuit against American Eagle Outfitters usher in more street artists standing up for their rights? This week finds director Terry Gilliam in hot water over the use of street art in his new movie, Zero Theorem. Gilliam is a master storyteller, with a unique aesthetic that he uses to drive the emotional direction of his narrative. Gilliam calls Zero Theorem the culmination...

Police stop
Intellectual Property

Can the police stop photographers from taking photos?

The shooting of unarmed 18-year old, Michael Brown, in Ferguson County, Missouri has once again made police brutality a topic of conversation across the media landscape. Some may think that police brutality is on the rise, but more likely, its mobile technology that has brought these incidents to light. With the majority of people in the U.S. owning a smart phone and a high-resolution camera...

Monkey selfie
Intellectual Property

The Telegraph is Wrong about the Monkey Selfie.

In the summer of 2011, the infamous monkey selfie went viral. Nature photographer David Slater was shooting in North Sulawesi Indonesia, when his camera stolen by a female crested black macaque monkey. Curious about the seemingly bizarre contraption, the primate began pushing buttons, accidentally taking a series of selfies. Slater posted the photos on his social media only to find that they...

Intellectual Property

Did American Eagle Rip Off a Miami Street Artist?

Graffiti or Street Art has come a long way since the raw style adorning New York Subways or marking gang territories in the 1970’s. Street artists have gained a healthy following of fans enamored by their non-traditional approach to shape and color; an aesthetic highlighting socially relevant themes that appeal to a demographic that shuns the ordered and mundane art of the traditional...

Etsy DMCA Safe Harbor
Intellectual Property

An Etsy Store Stole My Art. What Can I Do?

It has been about a year since I wrote about the excessive complaints permeating the web regarding copyright infringement on Etsy, the popular ecommerce site dedicated to handmade and vintage goods. Unfortunately, not much has changed since then, at least not from an anecdotal review of complaints on the web. That’s not surprising as the company’s claims DMCA Safe Harbor...

Getting Model Release
Right of Publicity

When Do I Need a Model Release?

One of the most frequently asked questions Intellectual property lawyers hear from members of the art community is “When should I get I need a model release?” Given the litigious nature of our society, this is no surprise.  The fear of being sued is pervasive.  The question becomes more difficult given the amount of disinformation across the web, leaving many photographers...

Drone Photography Law
Intellectual Property

The Law of Drone Photography

Drone photography discussions seem to abound nowadays across the Internet. Today, for around $1600 anyone can buy a drone like the Turbo Ace X830-D, attach a Go Pro Hero 3 Black edition camera, and have an aerial studio which can fly around for 25 minutes, taking either 12 megapixel stills or 4K video. Compare that cost to renting a helicopter, the only way a photographer could get that aerial...

Breach of Contract
Corporate Law

Tips on Contracts and Licensing for Artists

Every business needs a contract at one time or another.  They are everywhere.  Whether you are a struggling artist, world renowned photographer or a gallery owner, you will be inundated with contracts from art dealers, agents, exhibitors, publishers, ad agencies, museums as well as non-art industry members like landlords and contractors. If  a contract is supposed to make...

Trademark in Business
Intellectual Property

Need a Trademark? Here are some tips.

Picking a name for a business or product is one of the first steps for any new venture. However, many companies don’t register their trademarks during the start-up phase, usually waiting until a later time when sufficient cash is available, if registered at all. That decision is a bit of a gamble.  In reality, businesses should prioritize trademark registration for their brands or...

Getty Extortion

Tips for Responding to a Getty Images Extortion Letter

Getty Images is one of the largest purveyor of stock photos in the world and aggressively protects their copyrights.  With the Internet being an ocean of visual imagery ripe for the picking, many stolen images are from one of the Getty Stock Photography sites.  It’s so easy to copy photos from the web that we often forget that each one is someone’s copyrighted...

Art Law Negotiation
Corporate Law

Contract Negotiation Tips for Visual Artists

In part 1, we looked at some general negotiating strategies. In part 2, we will look at questions you should be asking in any contract negotiation as well as reviewing provisions that you will likely see in your contract. For this discussion, let’s again assume that you are an artist negotiating gallery representation. As I discussed in part 1, make sure you know what you want before...

Art of War
Corporate Law

Licensing Strategies for the Visual Artist

An artist has her first show in a New York gallery, an author is commissioned to create a photography book, a set designer has been asked to work on her first play; after the initial excitement ends, they realize with mounting trepidation, that they must enter into contract negotiations and have no idea what to do. The artists are entering into agreements that include terms and concepts they do...

Mickey Mug 414x276 - Copyright infringement is a high-benefit, low-risk business model
Intellectual Property

Copyright infringement is a high-benefit, low-risk business model

An increasing number of print-on-demand sites, such as Zazzle and Café Press, are popping up on the Internet. Users can create customizable products featuring their own photos or other graphic designs.  Unfortunately, there is very little stopping some of these users from creating products with stolen copyrighted designs and other art, with the copyright holder never even knowing that...

Work made for hire in copyright
Intellectual Property

Who Owns Works Created by a Freelancer?

As a general rule, when an artistic or literary work is created, the author is the one that holds the copyright. Nobody can copy, distribute, or display the work without the author’s permission.  When a painting is sold, the buyer owns the painting itself, but does not have the right to use that image for anything else other than to hang it. But what happens if the artist was hired...

Ellen DeGeneres Selfie
Intellectual Property

Who Owns the Copyright in the Now Famous Oscar Selfie?

Unless you’ve been living under a rock these past few days, you have probably seen the Ellen DeGeneres orchestrated selfie.  For a recap, Ellen wanted to beat the all-time record for re-tweets by gathering a gaggle of actors and actresses for a group selfie. She used a Samsung phone for the photo, which was a prop provided by Samsung, one of the sponsors at the Oscars. The camera...

Star Trek Fan Fiction
Intellectual Property

How Can Fan Fiction Authors Use Other Author’s Works?

There is popular misconception that fans who create works of their favorite fictional characters are allowed to create these works as long as they don’t try make money from it. That supposed “loophole” has led to an entire genre of “fan fiction.”  With the rise of the internet, fan fiction has exploded. The non- for-profit site, fan, has millions of...

Mickey Mouse Copyright
Intellectual Property

How Mickey Mouse Keeps Changing Copyright Law

When the Copyright Act was first enacted in the United States, the copyright duration was only 14 years. Today Copyright duration can last over a century in some cases.  Why such a drastic change?  Some say it is all due to a cute little mouse named Mickey. Copyright duration had some changes over the 125-years before Mickey Mouse. In the Copyright Act of 1790, the 14-year term was...

Creative Commons Art Alw
Intellectual Property

Why should I use a Creative Commons License?

Go to Flickr, Deviant Art, Sound Cloud, or even Wikipedia and you will see the term “Creative Commons License” peppered throughout attached to images, music files, and videos. Creative Commons licenses enable the owner of an original copyrighted work to allow use of their creative work by others without applying a full copyright. While copyright gives a creator the exclusive right to...

Depositphotos 23343194 s 414x276 - Copyright for Architectural Designs
Intellectual Property

Copyright for Architectural Designs

It is a common misperception that you cannot copyright a building design. That is probably because before 1990, there wasn’t much protection for building designs. At that time, anyone could reproduce buildings that looked identical to those created by others, as long as they didn’t actually use copied drawings to build them. With the passage of the Architectural Works Copyright...

Henson Sued for Empire State Building Photos
Corporate Law

Photographer sued for topless photos at Empire State Building

Last year, New York City police officers were told that if they see any topless woman in public, they were not to arrest them. If crowds form, just disperse them in an orderly fashion.  To test how police would react to that directive, photographer Allen Henson began taking photos of topless women around the city.  This past August, Henson and a model climbed to the crowded observation...

ME 164 SomethingForNothing1 414x276 - How to Submit a Copyright Takedown Notice
Intellectual Property

How to Submit a Copyright Takedown Notice

If a U.S. website is using your images without your permission, the easiest and fastest way to stop the infringement is to send the website a “DMCA Takedown Notice.” DMCA stands for the “Digital Millennium Copyright Act.”  Websites that host user generated material are immune from prosecution for infringement  (Safe Harbor) if the site implements notice...

Copyright Symbol all rights reserved
Intellectual Property

Do I Need to Use the © Symbol?

The copyright symbol © is one of the most recognized symbols in the world.  The reason it is so well known is that for quite a long time, it was required that creators display the © symbol on their artistic works to receive the benefit copyright protection. Look at any movie poster and you will see a copyright symbol with the name of the copyright holder and the year of the...

Schlackman Istanbul
Intellectual Property

Do I Have Copyright Protection If I Create My Work In Another Country?

Last week, I attended the Contemporary Art Show in Istanbul, Turkey. One night at dinner, I heard a story about how a Turkish photographer had found one of his works being reproduced and sold by someone in New York. He asked if there is anything he could do about it sincere was not a U.S. citizen.  The  answer to that question is a resounding; Yes.  Let me explain why. Although...

Latte Art
Corporate Law

Download Our Artist Licensing Agreement. It’s Free.

It may be surprising to receive a free licensing agreement from an attorney but we think it is so important that we had to do it.  Let’s start with a hypothetical scenario. A Story About Latte Art Janet recently opened a local coffee shop, called “The Grind,”. She then hires you as a photographer to shoot the new store and the unique Latte Art that has...

Amazing Stories June 1929 361x276 - How can I Find Out if a Creative Work is Copyright Free?
Intellectual Property

How can I Find Out if a Creative Work is Copyright Free?

Given the popularity of street art, video mash-ups, remixes or pop art, its important to know whether the works being used in an artist’s’ new creation is protected by copyright. Even though fair use is a defense when using other people’s work when creating something new and unique, fair use is still only a defense. It doesn’t mean that a copyright holder won’t...