What is the ARTS Act?

In mid-October the Artistic Recognition for Talented Students Act – or “ARTS Act” – was signed into law. You may be wondering what this new law does and whether it helps you? Odds are, the ARTS Act does not apply to you. But it’s still a nice idea and we want to let people know about it.

Congress has supported art in many ways over the years, including annual competitions for high school artists. The winners’ works are displayed in the Capitol complex, most prominently, in one of the hallways connecting the House of Representatives’ office buildings to the Capitol itself. RightsClick co-founder Steve Tepp worked on Capitol Hill at the beginning of his career and fondly remembers walking from meeting to meeting past the talented and thought-provoking works contributed by high school students from around the country.

What the ARTS Act does is to waive the Copyright Office’s registration application fee for works selected as winners of the Congressional art competition. So, if you’re no longer a high school student and/or your work did not win that competition, the ARTS Act doesn’t apply to you. Although the law applies only to a very small group of people, we still like it. Even a $45 registration fee for a single work is a nice savings for a high school student, and we applaud any incentive for young creators to engage with the copyright system and to learn about their rights early in their careers.

We at RightsClick cannot say often enough how important it is for independent creators to register their works. The full strength of the copyright law hinges on copyright registration, and the sooner you register, the more options you have when dealing with infringement. This is true even if you never go to court – because a request for compensation for unauthorized use of your work carries a lot more weight if you show that you know your rights and have taken steps to protect them.

So, we thank Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Thom Tillis (R-NC), the co-sponsors of the ARTS Act, as well as Representative Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY-8) who sponsored the companion bill in the House. All of three Members have a consistent record for supporting creators and an effective copyright system.