Law that Applies to Photographers

With "Thanks" to Tracy Valleau

In California, among other states, the law requires
a "certificate of authenticity" ("CoA") for any artwork
which is not a "one-off" (i.e., one-of-a-kind).

 These are called "multiples" and it includes any work
of art that is sold in more than one print or reproduction.

Although we don't often consider it as photographers, this
applies very specifically to us, as it does some types of fine
art printing, such as lithography, engraving, etching, woodcutting
and so on.

Trust me: it can come back and bite you if you don't include a
CoA, even if you're selling only to friends -- suppose your friend
decides to resell your artwork, and the dealer, quite reasonably
"Wow! an original BillyJoe! Where's the certificate of authenticity?"

It's extra work, to be sure, but it's worth it.

OK: better let a lawyer tell you, so I've included a snippet I
found about it, and then, for the heck of it, a couple of sample

A CoA can be as simple as a Word document, or as fancy as
a stock certificate. The choice is up to you, but you do need to
meet certain specific legal requirements, which are described.

Briefly, it's:



date of production


production method


how signed (artist? Stamp? artist's rep?)

made during artist's lifetime?

size of edition

if a limited edition, current item's number of how many (e.g., 1/10)

and what happens when the edition runs out (negative destroyed?)

in California, the last line must be:

"This is to certify that all information and
the statements contained herein are true and correct."

signature and date

And my advice is that you keep a record of who bought it
if possible.

OK… here's the lawyer, and the samples: