I’m not familiar with this concept in the publishing world, but was taught its equivalent in art school. The sculptor David Smith had already died in a car crash when someone altered one of his pieces. It had originally been made of stainless steel with a jewelled (scoured with a wire brush into a decorative) pattern. The owner chose to hose the piece down with tractor-red paint.
Now, if you’re Andy Rooney and think modern art is all just shit anyway, so what? Then let me put a scenario for those of you who. like Rooney, require on a 500-years of received opinion to acknowlege what’s good art: lets say you made bajillions of dollars on a new snack food that projected a hip-hop video when you bite into it, and you can afford to buy the Mona Lisa. Well, you know you’re really really smart - just look at your bank account, and you decide it would be a good idea to re-paint Mona’s mouth to show some teeth. Should you be legally entitled to do so?
If the work was specifically comissioned by you: then yes. This lets Nelson Rockefeller off the hook for painting over Diego Rivera’s mural. But if an artist fufilled a commission to paint, say, the president of Holographic Snack Foods Ltd. in an allegorical portait steering a ship through stormy seas, and this president was replaced by a backstabbing underling, could underling have his head painted over the original’s? the answer is no. And if the art was made at the behest of the artist own muse: NO!
At some level, art is purely the product of the human soul, and as such it belongs to the collective human soul of all mankind. That sounds like twee bullshit, but try menacing a David Smith with a spraygun full of red paint. It could be conveyed to you by a New York State Trooper.
Before this law went into effect, there were stories of artists having friends distract the guards & docents of museums so that they could et ats their works in museum and alter those elements that had been keeping them awake nights. Tricky, but still easier for painters than those who work in bronze.