Survey of Arts Management

Course blog for American University PERF-570, Fall 2014

Graffiti copyright?

YES!! It’s an original work of art; a recognized art form; and when done legally, I believe it deserves all of the rights and privileges of other works of art.

I understand there isn’t a precedent, but, unless facts emerge that aren’t reflected in this article, I don’t see any reason why these artists shouldn’t be successful in these suits.



One comment on “Graffiti copyright?

  1. Jenni
    September 22, 2014

    This brings up so many other interesting questions, too. Such as, how can graffiti artists protect their work? In the article alluded to by this article, the graffiti artist Banski refused to authenticate graffiti pieces that were being auctioned off and being attributed to him. He claimed they weren’t his work and encouraged people to boycott the auction, because he says, ‘Graffiti art has a hard enough life as it is – with council workers wanting to remove it and kids wanting to draw moustaches on it, before you add hedgefund managers wanting to chop it out and hang it over the fireplace… For the sake of keeping all street art where it belongs I’d encourage people not to buy anything by anybody unless it was created for sale in the first place.”

    I think Banski makes a valuable point. Street art is just that, meant to be on the street. Once it is removed from its context or duplicated or sold, it loses some of the potency of its original meaning and gets distorted by someone who only wants to seek a profit. There’s a reason the art is placed where it is, most commonly as a social commentary meant for that particular place at that particular time. I don’t blame street artists for being upset that their work is being distorted and sold without their consent. And if they can’t copyright their work, it gives those people the right to exploit it for profit without having to pay anything to the artist.

    However, the issue can get hairy if the street artist’s work is created on private property. Can it be copyrighted then? Unless the work was commissioned by the owner of the property, I think it becomes a lot trickier.

    Here’s a link to the Banski article:

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