Georgetown Law
Georgetown Law Library

Art Law Research Guide

This guide provides an introduction to notable resources for conducting art law research available at Georgetown University and online.


This section of the guide provides a select list of mostly U.S. primary legal sources related to art law, including the following:

For more information on primary legal research generally, consult the law library's research guides to cases, statutes, regulations, treaties, or foreign law or watch one of our video tutorials.

Case, Claim, & Dispute Databases


Casebooks can also be a useful tool as they will often include noteworthy and important cases in a particular area as well as helpful discussion. KeyCite or Shepardize the opinions in order to update the information and find additional relevant cases. 

  • Art Law & Transactions (2011) 
    Call Number: KF4288 .R48 2011
    A casebook that covers art law "along the transactional time line of acquisition, ownership, and disposition" and the "primary perspective is that of an individual collector as a client of a transactional lawyer."
  • Art and Freedom of Expression (2009)
    Call Number: KF4770 .B487
    ​Examines several issues related art and the First Amendment by using case studies. 
  • Art, Cultural Heritage, and the Law: Cases and Materials (2004)
    Call Number: KF4288.A7 G47
    Materials on artists' rights, museums and dealers, and cultural heritage.
  • Art Law: Cases and Materials (2004) 
    Call Number: KF4288.A7 .D83
    Discusses preservation of art, intellectual property, business relationships, auctions, museums, and censorship.
  • Art and Museum Law (2002) 
    Call Number: KF4288.A7 L56
    Significant material on museums, including tax, fundraising, marketing, acquisitions, collection management, and labor relations, in addition to standard art law materials.

You can look for additional materials in our catalog using the following types of subject headings:

Federal Statutes & Regulations

The following is a select list of U.S. federal statutes related to art law:

  • 16 U.S.C. secs. 461 to 470aaa-11 (includes the Archaeological Resources Protection Act)
    These sections of Title 16 ("Conservation") concern the preservation and protection of important historic sites, buildings, objects, and antiquities.
  • Convention on Cultural Property Implementation Act, Pub. L. No. 97-446, secs. 301-15, 96 Stat. 2329, 2350-63 (1983) (codified at 19 U.S.C. secs. 2601-2613)
    This act implements the Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export, and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property and authorizes the President to enter into bilateral agreements with party nations to prevent the import of certain "archaeological or ethnological material."
  • National Stolen Property Act, 18 U.S.C. secs. 2314-15
    This act prohibits, among other things, the knowing transportation or sale of stolen or fraudulently obtained merchandise (e.g., a work of art) worth $5,000 or more.
  • Abandoned Shipwreck Act of 1987, Pub. L. No. 100-298, 102 Stat. 432 (1988) (codified at 43 U.S.C. secs. 2101-2106)
    This act applies to abandoned shipwrecks in submerged state lands. It abrogates the law of finds and salvage; the United States takes title to these shipwrecks and then ownership is transferred to the state where the shipwreck is located.
  • 18 U.S.C. sec. 668
    Prohibits the theft of major works of art and cultural objects from museums in the United States.
  • 19 U.S.C. secs. 2091-2095
    Prohibits the importation of certain stone carvings and wall art that is the "product of a pre-Columbian Indian culture of Mexico, Central America, South America, or the Caribbean Islands."
  • Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, Pub. L. No. 101-601, 104 Stat. 3048 (1990) (codified at 25 U.S.C. secs. 3001-13, 18 U.S.C. sec. 1170)
    This act protects Native American burial sites by prohibiting unauthorized excavation and trafficking in certain items, such as human remains and funerary objects. It also establishes a system for the repatriation of items removed prior to the effective date of the act.
  • 22 U.S.C. sec. 2459
    Protects certain works of art and "other objects of cultural significance" imported into the United States for temporary exhibition at a museum or similar institution from seizure under judicial process.
  • Copyright Act of 1976, Pub. L. No. 94-553, 90 Stat. 2541 (codified as amended in Title 17 of the U.S.C.)
    Works of art are protected by U.S. copyright law. Provisions of this act apply to the creation, ownership, reproduction, and dissemination of works of art.

The following is a select list of U.S. federal regulations related to art law. For information on federal agencies involved in this area of law, see the section of this guide on Government Entities.

  • 18 C.F.R. secs. 1312.1-1312.21​
    Regulations related to archaeological resources protection.
  • 19 C.F.R. secs. 12.104-12.109
    Regulations governing the import of certain cultural property and pre-Columbian sculptures and murals.
  • 25 C.F.R. secs. 262.1-262.8
    Regulations on Native American archaeological resources.
  • 36 C.F.R. secs. 73.1-73.17
    World Heritage Convention regulations.
  • 37 C.F.R. secs. 201.2-212.8
    Regulations promulgated by the U.S. Copyright Office governing copyright registration and other procedures, including regulations regarding the Visual Arts Registry and specific requirements for the registration of pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works.
  • 43 C.F.R. secs. 3.1-3.17, 7.1-7.37, 10.1-10.17
    Regulations from the Department of the Interior regarding cultural property.
  • 45 C.F.R. secs. 1100.1-1160.13
    Regulations related to the National Endowment for the Arts.

U.S. State Statutes (50 State Surveys)