When IP meets counterculture: Is graffiti protected by copyright?
Art Law

When IP meets counterculture: Is graffiti protected by copyright?

Graffiti and, more broadly, street art was once considered more of a nuisance than an art form. While the circumstances of its creation may be legally ambiguous, street art has undoubted creative and monetary value. Little wonder that artists are now seeking to enforce IP protection for their creations. Whether you consider graffiti to be art or vandalism (or both), chances are that if Banksy painted something on the side of your garage door, you’d be more pleased than annoyed. As a subculture, street artists work a fine line between creator and vandal. Some like Banksy may (generally) be welcomed, but others – teenagers tagging their names in spray paint – will be less so. But, any art form that has as its canvas another person’s property is likely to cause confusion when it comes to identifying the existence and ownership of IP rights. A legal tangle In July, Julian Rivera became the latest street artist to complain against the appropriation of artwork. He filed suit against US department store Walmart and TV personality Ellen DeGeneres for using his ‘Love logo’ (see right) on clothing without his permission. While he sells art and clothing featuring the logo on his […]

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