All Things Legal

Whether you run a dance studio, compose music, or sell your art online, there are legal matters that come into play. Know that there are resources available to help protect your work and get you on the right track to run a business in the world of art.

Forming Your Business Structure

If you’re providing a service or selling your art, you’re running a business. The question is: what type of business structure is right for you? What are the benefits of a sole proprietorship vs. an LLC? Find out more about sole proprietorships, partnerships, LLCs and corporations and other valuable information to help you decide which structure is right for you at the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Articles on art and the business structures:

Running Your Business

Art galleries, workshops, and online art dealers may operate slightly differently from other businesses, but they’re all businesses as far as the government is concerned. It’s important to stay up-to-date with timely record keeping, appropriate licenses and permits, and filing any mandatory reports with the state—and seeking professional advice if you’re unsure about what is the best path for your business.

Getting a Trademark, Patent or Copyright

Taking appropriate action to protect your creative work or business with a trademark, patent or copyright is something that all artists and owners should consider. It’s an investment that can help establish your identity, protect your original work and distinguish your business from others. Find out more about trademarks, patents, and copyrights from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and the U.S. Copyright Office to see which type of protection is right for you.

U.S. Copyright Office
Get the basics on all things concerning copyrights, with a special section dedicated to Copyright Registration of Visual Arts.

U.S. Patent and Trademark Office
For all things patents and trademarks, this is ultimate resource.

Music Publisher's Association
An excellent copyright resource center for musicians, including a copyright search center, forms for obtaining permissions and an informative FAQ section.

College Art Association
A range of links to intellectual property matters as well as useful websites and resources on:

  1. Artists’ copyrights
  2. Image permission
  3. Fair use
  4. Orphan works
  5. Digital images
  6. Works for hire

10 Myths About Copyright
Dispel common misconceptions about copyrights. Keep yourself on the right side of the law by familiarizing yourself with these pitfalls.

Legal Links

From copyrights to studio leases, these valuable links can lend you some legal basics.

St. Louis Volunteer Lawyers and Accountants for the Arts (SLVLAA)
Extensive library of general and legal resources for artists in areas such as music, film, contracts and more.

Artist Help Network
This site offers links to legal resources, many aimed toward artists and art law.

Starving Artist Law
A launch pad for artists and writers looking for self-help legal information.

This page is in partnership with:

Legal Zoom

LegalZoom is the nation’s leading provider of legal documents that help people protect their families and launch their business dreams. Since its founding in 2001, more than 1 million customers have used the service to make a will or living trust, form a corporation or LLC, or apply for a copyright or trademark. LegalZoom offers lifetime customer support, an informative Education Center, and a 100% satisfaction guarantee.

  • Business Formations: LegalZoom can help you decide which business structure is right for you—corporation, LLC, DBA, nonprofit and more—and then help you make and file the proper documents to form your business.
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  • Additional Business Services: LegalZoom offers a number of additional business services to fit your needs, including helping you prepare bylaws and resolutions, dissolve your company and obtain your federal tax identification number (EIN).
  • Patent, Trademark and Copyright: LegalZoom can help you protect your intellectual property, whether a trademark for a business or product name, patent or provisional application for patent for an invention, or copyright for an original creative work of authorship.