Museums, including historical societies and other memory institutions, create and use intellectual property every day.Copyright

A basic understanding of copyright law is essential to protect your organization’s rights and those of other creators, further your organization’s mission, and avoid disputes that could harm its reputation.

In this lab, museum attorney Walter G. Lehmann provides a practical, museum-focused overview of copyright law including the important exception for fair use.

Topics he addresses include copyright duration, copyright orphans, fair use and the four-factor test, best practices and applying fair use, and clearing rights.

“The quality of the StEPs labs always impresses me. Thank you so much for providing these webinars. They have helped me, my staff, and my organization to move closer to meeting the StEPs standards.” (2016 lab participant)

Walter G. Lehmann is managing partner of the art, entertainment and museum law firm LEHMANN PLC. An attorney and business consultant for over 20 years, he has focused on helping individuals, businesses and nonprofit organizations manage their real and intellectual property assets. Lehmann’s education includes a BA in English (Williams College) and Juris Doctor cum laude (Wm. Mitchell College of Law). He has also completed a Masters in Museum Studies (George Washington University). He is a frequent contributor to scholarly and industry publications and has participated in numerous conferences, workshops and presentations. Lehmann has served on the board of directors of numerous nonprofit organizations including the Landis Valley Museum Associates and the North Museum of Natural History and Science, where he also served as interim Curator of Collections, and is a past member of the Walters Art Museum Collections Committee. He has taught graduate and under-graduate courses on art and museum law at Johns Hopkins University and George Washington University and served on the faculty of the ABA-CLE Legal Issues in Museum Administration CLE course, and is a former Chair of the ABA-IPL Copyright Policy Committee. Lehmann contributed to the publication Rights and Reproductions: a Handbook for Cultural Institutions published by the American Alliance of Museums. He is currently licensed to practice law in Minnesota and Maryland.


Participation in StEPs Labs offers in-depth information on topics central to the operation of your museum, historic house, site, or related organization. Applying what you learn in a Lab to your organization’s policies and practices means you are making meaningful progress. The more progress you make, the more boxes you can check off in the StEPs workbook. The more boxes you check off, the more Bronze, Silver, and Gold certificates you earn. And that translates into more credibility, more support, and a museum that is a valuable asset to its community for many more years to come.