Artists' Rights and the Law, a Conversation with Attorney Stephen Zralek

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In this week's Art Heroes conversation with Stephen Zralek, we'll examine why artists' rights are important; what protections exist for artists; the difference between copyright, trade dress and design patents; when you should seek an attorney's assistance and what you can do on your own.

Protecting your work as an artist is important for reasons far more compelling than pure financial issues. As an artist, your reputation is closely tied to your work. We'll also discuss how intellectual property rights protect your name, reputation and legacy and why that may be even more important than protecting your immediate livelihood.

Stephen Zralek is an attorney who helps clients resolve disputes over their intellectual property: copyrights, trademarks, trade secrets and rights to publicity. His clients range from individuals, such as visual artist John Unger and performing artist Sam Moore, to businesses ranging in size from small entrepreneurs to Warner Bros. His cases cover everything from music, film, furniture and software to shapes of water bottles and packaging of dog breath mints.

Stephen is based in Nashville, but has represented clients in courts all over the country. He clerked for a federal judge upon graduation from law school in 1997 and has been voted "Best of the Bar" for IP litigation by his fellow attorneys. He has received a ranking of 10 out of 10 on You can follow him on Twitter, and read his thoughts on IP issues on his blog, TheExpressive.

Professionally, Stephen serves as Vice Chair of the American Bar Association's Copyright Litigation Committee. He is active in his community and chairs the steering committee of Nashville For All Of Us, which just celebrated its 1-year anniversary of defeating English Only in Nashville. He is co-host of a monthly networking group for young entrepreneurs called WaterCooler. He is married to an interior designer and is the proud father of a brand new baby girl.

Learn More about Stephen Zralek

  1. Stephen Zraleck at Bone McAllester Norton PLLC
  2. Follow Stephen on Twitter here.
  3. Read Stephen's law blog, The Expressive here.
  4. Stephens profile and ratings on here.

Further Resources:

  1. U.S. Copyright Office
  2. Electronic Copyright Registration
  3. ARS | Artists Rights Society
  4. Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts
  5. Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts Directory
  6. MyOws - Digital Rights Protection
  7. Electronic Frontier Foundation
  8. Art Copyright Coalition
  9. CARFAC: Canadian Artists’ Representation
  10. American Intellectual Property Law Association
  11. Media Bloggers Association

Show Highlights: Excerpts From the Conversation

Once the transcription is completed I'll include some of the best portions here.

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Statement + Bio | Curriculum Vitae | Bibliography

I'm best known as an artist and designer. Relaxing makes me tense, so I tend to put in a lot of hours on diverse projects.

On the way to a successful art career I've been a poet and writer, a tech geek, a print and web designer, illustrator, industrial designer, musician, teacher, actor, set designer and even a paid guru once.

It's all the same thing in the end— I wake up most days thinking about how I want to change, fix or improve some aspect of the world. And after a couple cups of coffee I get started on it.

My specialty is impossibility remediation: if it can't be done, I'm on it.

Mobile: 231.584.2710 (9 to 5 PST only) | Email me
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