California Art Preservation Act

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The California Art Preservation Act is a 1979 California law that provides legal protection for artists' moral rights. The law is currently codified at California Civil Code §987. The law has since been amended in part. The California Art Preservation Act was the first major law to specifically address artists' rights in the United States.

Portions of the law may overlap with the provisions of the Visual Artists Rights Act, in which case the California law is preempted.


The Art Preservation Act provides for civil penalties and injunctive relief for the intentional or grossly negligent destruction or mutilation of a work of fine art, defined in the statute as any original painting, sculpture, or drawing that is "of recognized quality." Fine art, as used in the law, does not include works prepared for commercial use by the purchaser.

The Act also provides artists the right to claim authorship and disavow modifications to works of fine art.

The rights granted under the act subsist for the life of the author plus 50 years.

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