Sen. Edward Kennedy, and Rep. Edward Markey, both Democrats from Massachusetts, have proposed legislation that would protect artists from having their works modified with or destroyed after they are sold. ``A work of art is not a utilitarian object, like a toaster; it is a creative work,'' said Mr. Markey. ``We should not pretend that all connection between the artist and the creation is severed the first time the work is sold.''

This year's version of the Visual Artists' Rights Act is narrower and less controversial than unsuccessful past attempts.

The proposed law would protect paintings, drawings, sculptures and photographs, but pointedly excludes films and books, somewhat easing anxiety in the motion picture and book publishing industries.

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