“Mural Artists, you have the right to your name. You have the right to not have your art mutilated or painted over in such a way that it could harm your name,” said Zachary D. Messa, Board Certified Interllectual Property Lawyer. Speaking at The Green house on the subject of Public Display and Commission of Art, Messa presented a free arts business continuing education session on Thursday, April 21, 2016. This session was planned to be particularly helpful for local mural artists.
“With the explosion of requests to hire mural artists, and requests by mural artists for support, this session was one of the most timely of the year,” said John Collins, Executive Director of The St. Petersburg Arts Alliance. “Professional continuing education is a mainstay of SPAA’s free programming and this session demonstrated why it is so important.”
Tracey Smith, Economic Development Coordinator at the Greenhouse, introduced Mr. Messa. This is the third seminar Zachary Messa has given at The Greenhouse.
“The Greenhouse is a collaboration of the City of St. Petersburg, The St. Petersburg Arts Alliance, and SCORE, Service Corps Of Retired Executives – the Small Business Development Center,” said Tracey Smith, “We are able to do what we do through partnerships with various organizations to help small businesses grow. Yes, your art is a small business. This is the place to come.”
The Greenhouse provides business training and support for small businesses. Each month, free or low cost seminars are offered to help area entrepreneurs start or grow their own businesses. John Collins, Executive Director of The St. Petersburg Arts Alliance, Wayne David Atherholt, Director, Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs, and many others have cooperated to present programs of special interest to artists. Collins and Atherholt both attended this session. They gave Zach Messa one of the famous St. Petersburg T-shirts.
“We have a great partnership with our city and Clearwater too, which is where Zachary’s office is. We are discussing the Visual Arts Right Act, or VARA, which would pertain to murals or sculptures, any art that is seen in the public,” said John Collins.
“Zachary D. Messa, attorney at Johnson, Pope, Bokor, Ruppel & Burns, spoke at the first session and again during the Arts Business Collaborative. He knows what the issues are. He has volunteered again, donating his time for this professional development session,” said Collins.
The Greenhouse partners with local higher education such as Eckerd College (and ASPEC), St. Petersburg College and USF St. Petersburg. The arts programs are coordinated with Creative Pinellas, which serves Pinellas County artists, and the St. Petersburg Arts Alliance, which is like an “umbrella” organization, bringing together people from all over the city, artists and art appreciators. Both Creative Pinellas and the St. Petersburg Arts Alliance publish free regular newsletters, with information about jobs, grants and opportunities for artists.
“(Artists should) visit the web site and social media to see what else is going on,” said Tracey Smith. “In addition to arts training, there are business plan workshops and non-profit workshops. We have business counseling opportunities. The information you will get in a one-on-one session will be more helpful, if you get a business counselor to advise you. They are available on Tues, Weds and Thursdays, a free service. Your tax dollars at work! They are usually free or low cost.”
The St. Petersburg Arts Alliance’s free arts and cultural education seminars are presented in partnership with The Greenhouse on the third Thursday of each month. Please reserve your place early online or call 727-893-7146.
Messa gave verbal and visual illustrations of real life examples, explaining the artists’ rights and how they were applied to protect public art. We are fortunate to have a video of the whole session, so you can view the video with this article and hear Messa’s lecture for yourself.
A work of Visual Art covered by VARA would include “a painting, drawing, print or sculpture, existing in a single copy, (or) in a limited edition of 200 copies or fewer that are signed and consecutively numbered by the author. The art has to have “Recognized Stature,” which is defined as “viewed as meritorious, it’s recognized by art experts, other members of the artistic community, or by some cross section of society, and generally need expert witnesses testimony,” wrote Messa.
Messa specializes in law relating to Intellectual Property, consisting of patents, trademarks, and copyrights, significant tangible assets that comprise approximately 80% of the market value of publicly traded U.S. based companies. It can be difficult to define the Intellectual Property of a company, but considering its value, it is important that you do.
A company must own or secure the rights to use copyrighted works in their business, such as videos, pictures, graphics, music, individual’s names and likenesses. “A common belief is that simply because something appears on the internet, that it is in the public domain and free for copying. This is false, and the use of such material could expose you to claims for copyright infringement,” said Messa.
“Laws vary from state to state, but you do have some protection under VARA. Some things are covered by copyright laws, but not VARA,” said Messa. “The United States Copyright Office has a specific address. You may want to go to the Copyright Office Web Site and get your name on a registry for mural artists. Under the copyright act, you need to register the work to protect your work, before you have a problem.”
A real life example of the need for the VARA law came up right after the seminar. Local artist Carrie Jadus noticed that a light has been installed smack on the face of her mural subject, from her mural, “Resonance” by Carrie Jadus. Photographs of the mural are included in the slide show with this article. Unless she signed away her VARA protection in her original contract to do this painting, Jadus would have the right to ask the people who put the light up to remove it to a different place, and to pay her the amount necessary to restore the artwork to its original form.
Would you have the right to take a photograph of a friend or family member in front of a public mural, and post it on social media? Yes, you could do that, but it would be courteous to name the artist of the mural if you can. Just sharing the mural in family pictures is not considered theft, but if you photographed a public mural and then reproduced it as a postcard or on a calendar, or used it in any commercial way, the artist has copyright protection to make sure they are compensated.
Messa said that the best thing to do is contact the artist and ask them, if you think their artwork may be used as a backdrop or featured in any publication. “Nine times out of ten, the artist will be appreciative that they were asked, and often something can be worked out,” said Messa.
Zachary D. Messa has lived in Pinellas County since 1998 and joined Johnson Pope in the fall of 2001 after graduating from Stetson University College of Law. He is a member of the International Trademark Association and has served as an editor of The Trademark Report, The Law Journal of the International Trademark Association.
Messa contributes to the practice by focusing on all facets of intellectual property law, such as trademark, copyright, rights of publicity and trade secrets. He works on drafting and negotiation of licensing , supply and manufacturing agreements, protection of client’s intellectual property through trademark and copyright registration and prosecution, and when necessary the enforcement and protection of such rights through litigation. Zachary has represented home builders, photographers, authors, composers, performance rights associations, song writers, clothing design companies, home designers, franchises, and corporations in the protection and enforcement of their intellectual property rights.
Zachary is a member of the Florida Bar and is admitted to practice in the Southern, Middle and Northern Districts of Florida. He is also a member of Pinellas County Bar Association.
Continue learning about legal issues for small business
The next free session planned for the Greenhouse that covers legal issues will be “Learn About Legal Structures to Consider When Starting a Business,” to be held on Tuesday, May 2nd, from 6 pm to 8 pm. Learn about the different legal structures that are available to you and the advantages and disadvantages of each so you can decide which best suits your needs. Common legal structures include Sole Proprietor, Partnership, Limited Liability Company, or Corporation. Your decision will affect what kinds of taxes you pay and who can be legally liable for a business dispute. The speaker is Mr. Will Hurter from SCORE.
Register now before all seats are filled.
Continue learning to market yourself as an artist on social media
Artists in Pinellas County can learn to market their artwork in social media in several
summer workshops coming up, sponsored by Creative Pinellas. The workshops will be held at EpiCenter, St. Petersburg College, 13805 58th St N, Clearwater, FL 33760.
Hands on Workshops $25, includes Lunch and a $10 coupon for any future Best Ever Hands-On Workshop
Email marketing, Saturday, May 14, 2016, 12 pm to 4 pm
Twitter and Vine, Saturday, June 11, 2016
You Tube, Saturday, July 30, 2016
Facebook, Saturday, Aug 20, 2016
Register for Workshops.
The Suncoasters of St. Petersburg are a civic organization comprised of nearly 200 business leaders who donate their time and resources to produce events that celebrate the City of St. Petersburg to be enjoyed by the total community. SPF16 is a festival of arts coming soon, presented by the Suncoasters of St. Petersburg, and produced by the St. Petersburg Arts Alliance with support from the City of St. Petersburg’s Office of Cultural Affairs.
“The SHINE Mural festival is coming up on September 1- 10, 2016,” said John Collins. “SHINE was started with a $25,000 grant from the office of Cultural Affairs. We will have a call to artists for that project around June 1st.”
SPF16 features events and activities produced by local and national artists, arts organizations and arts-related businesses in and around the City’s unique arts districts. SPF16 will again kick off with the Shine Mural Festival, followed by weekly spotlights on all the arts, including fine arts, performing arts, and a family arts festival in conjunction with the Central Ave Solstice Festival. SPF16 will conclude with the grand opening of the Chihuly Exhibit at its new location on October 1.
Scott Brainard, Co-Chair of the Suncoaster’s Festival Committee said, “We celebrate the arts and we encourage the business community to embrace SPF16 and engage the arts in their day-to-day businesses.”
“This is an opportunity for the entire city’s arts and cultural scene to shine for residents, tourists and the travel industry as a whole. It is a great way to bring new visitors to the city and a great way to highlight our artists and arts organizations to prospective visitors, media and residents” said Wayne Atherholt.
Week ending Sept. 11
SHINE Mural Festival, Fine Arts, ArtWalk, Craft Arts
Week ending Sept. 18
Performing Arts (dance, theatre, music performances in traditional and nontraditional places)
Week ending Sept. 24
Family Arts Festival (Arts Alive, TBBCA Chalk Walk, Central Ave Solstice Festival)
440 2nd Avenue North, St. Petersburg, Florida 33701
(adjacent to City Hall)
Telephone: 727-893-7146, Fax: 727-551-3360
Web site: stpetegreenhouse.org
Jessica Eilerman, Small Business Liaison/Greenhouse Manager
Tracey Smith, Economic Development Coordinator
Zachary D. Messa, Esq
Johnson, Pope, Bokor, Ruppel & Burns, LLP
911 Chestnut Street, Clearwater, Florida 33756
Web site: www.jpfirm.com
Phone 727-461-1818 Clearwater, Phone 813-225-2500 Tampa
St. Petersburg Arts Alliance
100 Second Ave N, Ste 150 St. Petersburg, FL 33701727-518-542
Carol Hess, Media Coordinator, firstname.lastname@example.org
John Collins, Executive Director, email@example.com
Web site: www.stpeteartsalliance.org
Web site: www.creativepinellas.org
Facebook page: www.facebook.com/CreativePinellas
Wayne David Atherholt
Director, Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs
City of St. Petersburg, 175 Fifth Street North, St. Petersburg, FL 33701
Office: 727-551-3250 / Mobile: 813-416-2490
Jessica Higgins, Suncoasters of St. Petersburg
Web site: www.suncoasters-stpete.com
Facebook page: www.facebook.com/suncoastersofstpetersburg