Street Artists Sue Over Copyright Infringement: Inspiration vs. Theft

“The good poet welds his theft into a whole of feeling which is unique, utterly different from that from which it was torn.” T.S. Eliot

From graffiti art covering a burnt-out chapel in a Hollywood blockbuster, remnants of a mural etched on a designer shirt, graffiti is a commonplace influence found in popular culture, a far stretch from the underground where it originated. But, recently, there’s been a spate of recent lawsuits involving street artists lately, accusing marketers, designers, companies, and even film directors, of copyright infringement. Surely street art can be an inspiration to other creatives. But when does influence become theft?……

According to Revok, Reyes and Steel a.k.a Jason Williams, Victor Chapa and Jeffrey Rubin, major designer Roberto Cavalli derived the designs for his new fashion line from a mural they painted in San Francisco’s artistic Mission district. They are suing the fashion label for copyright infringement.

The street artists ‘Jaz‘, ‘Ever‘ and ‘Other‘ working the Buenos Aires mural which is reproduced in The Zero Theorem; Photograph: Hollywood Reporter


Just last month news broke out that Miami’s Ahol Sniffs Glue was suing American Eagle Outfitters.  It seems lawsuits are becoming a bit of a trend. Argentinian artists Franco Fasoli and Nicolas Escalada – AKA Jaz and Ever – along with a Canadian artist, Derek Mehaffey, known as Troy Lovegates or Other, are suing film director Terry Gilliam, production company Voltage Pictures and distributor Amplify Releasing in a US federal court in Illinois, asking for an injunction to halt the film’s US September 2014 release. They are also seeking statutory damages, profits and costs. The trio of artists claim Gilliam used their intricate artwork, located in popular Buenos Aires “zona de graffiti,” to adorn a church in his new film.

And that’s not all. Maya Hayuk, artist of colorful diamond, drooping-paint patterns “Chem Trails” located on the Bowery Graffiti Wall, claims Coach and singer Sara Bareilles incorporated her piece into their marketing campaigns, using it to sell products. She is suing them both for $150,000 each.

Are some of these artists stretching it? Is it possible these major designers were simply inspired by artwork similar to their own or are these powerful companies exploiting the independent artists’ genius?

Just Cavalli; from Hollywood Reporter

Courtesy Juxapoz Magazine


—Monica Torres

Read the full article here, Street Artists Sue Over Copyright Infringement: Inspiration vs. Theft


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