Benzos And Bombers: Street Artists Stymied By Little-Known AWCPA
Art Law

Benzos And Bombers: Street Artists Stymied By Little-Known AWCPA

(Photo by David Lat). Mercedes-Benz has shifted into overdrive in its attack on the rights of street artists. Four such creatives — James Lewis, Daniel Bombardier, Jeff Soto, and Maxx Gramajo — sent cease-and-desist demands to MB, expressing agita over MB’s use of their murals as set dressing for product photography shoots. In these shoots, MB’s G 500 Series vehicles were positioned in the foreground with the street artists’ murals providing color and background and that oh-so-important and intangible element of authenticity. MB then distributed and published these photographs online to promote its G-rides. There is really no doubt that a conscious decision was made by MB to incorporate the street artists’ murals into its advertising. And most would agree that the street artists should be compensated if their artwork is used in marketing materials. MB, though, after receiving from the artists various cease-and-desist demands, went on the offensive and sued the four street artists in Detroit, a calculated move to increase the cost of litigating the case and perhaps obtain a home-field advantage in the town known as Motor City. The suit sought a judicial declaration that MB had infringed no rights and, even more aggressively, that the […]

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