Friday, June 9, 2023

Graffiti Artists Use Copyright Law to Fight Pending Destruction of Murals

It was a matter of time, or better yet, a growing trend. A few New York-based graffiti artists are using copyright law and moral rights laws to fight the pending destruction of what they call, “Graffiti Mecca.”

Check out some great pictures here. The Courthouse News Service has more on this here. 


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  • Aren’t all they entitled to under VARA is the right to pay for the removal of the works themselves, since it is part of a building?

  • See Section 117(2). (see below). Payment or removal by artist only applies if the protected work can be safely removed from the building. I’m not so sure that’s the case here.

    This is going to be interesting. According to media reports, I don’t see an easy way out for the building owners without a waiver or ability to remove the work without harm. It seems like all the works were made after 1990, so that shouldn’t be a problem.

    I do see one interesting argument here, but I’ll save it for a later post! Thanks for reading. -sms

    Title 17, Section 113(2): “If the building owner wants to remove an artwork which can be safely removed, the artist’s rights apply unless (1) the building owner has made a diligent, good faith but unsuccessful attempt at notification of the artist of his removal intent, or (2) the building owner did provide notice, but the artist either failed to remove the work or to pay for its removal within 90 days after receiving notice. A “diligent, good-faith attempt” involves sending notice by registered mail to the artist at his most recent address as recorded by the Register of Copyrights. This record is part of a system, established by Congress, which permits an
    artist whose work is incorporated in a building to record his identity and address, with available update procedures, and similarly permits building owners to record evidence of their efforts to comply.”

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