Monday, March 19, 2018


Damage property
With spray paint
Then copyright “art”?

IF A CRIMINAL WRITES A BOOK about his (or her) crimes, should the criminal enjoy the book’s profits?
In most cases the courts have ruled the criminal cannot get profits from the book’s sale.

IF A PHOTOGRAPHER photographs a person walking down a public roadway, can the person photographed sue for “invasion of privacy.”

As before, courts consistently ruled in favor of the photographer.

YET, IN THE U.S. a person with a can of paint can deface private property and then copyright the defacement.

    What I fail to comprehend is why, when the “artist” tries to copyright the image, the cops don’t arrest the “artist” for any one (or more) of several charges; vandalism and trespass as a start.

The internet is replete with the contest between H&M, a clothing company, and “street artist” Jason “Revok” Williams.

TO BE FAIR, Williams is not accused of painting graffiti on an H&M property. The suit was initiated by Williams when H&M used some of his work on another structure in an H&M promotion. The “art” was on a private building and Williams wants compensation for H&M's use of his vandalism in an H&M publication.

According to the Hyperbeast site1, ““The problem [with this case] is the precedent it could set which would make lives more difficult for artists in the public domain.” ” The comment is attributed to (quoting from Hyperbeast) “acclaimed street art photographer Daniel Weintraub known as Halopigg.”

This is not the first time a “street artist” – that, apparently is anybody with a can of spray paint – can “decorate” a private building with impunity.

Recently in New York an “art board” decided graffiti was “art” and a court ordered the building's owners to pay the artist after the owner had the nerve to paint over the unwanted, unauthorized vandalism.

Would the U.S. government – certainly not while President Trump is in office – allow “street artists” to deface Washington monuments? I suppose it depends on who is running the government, Who will be the first to paint holes in Lincoln’s trousers or to turn the Washington monument into the appearance of an ICBM. Maybe paint a hairpiece on the statute of MLK Jr. or write “Womanizer” on any JFK memorial. Perhaps a vandal with an interest in history could paint a car going off a bridge (and killing a young woman) or Teddy cheating on a take-home exam in Government3 on the sides of the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate.

The nation would be up in arms. Would the courts smile on the “street artists” and offer them copyright protection?

So why are vandals praised for “decorating” private property sans invitation or permission from the property owners?

I have seen some really great street art, painted on construction site fences. I also have seen some beautiful wall paintings by artists compensated by the building owners; the Bacardi building in Miami is one such place.

The difference between the the private building in New York and both construction fences and sites such as the Bacardi building is in that the former is pure vandalism, no matter how “art worthy” some bureaucrats may rule while in the latter case the art work was invited – or in the case of the Bacardi building, compensated.

The political pendulum has swung too far to the left; it needs to be recentered. (I am not suggesting it should swing far to the right. The U.S. has survived for more than 200 years by striving to find a middle ground.) The courts, which now seem to be making the laws, need to bear that in mind.

Just what is “graffiti?” According to the Encyclopedia Britannica2: Graffiti, form of visual communication, usually illegal, involving the unauthorized marking of public space by an individual or group. Although the common image of graffiti is a stylistic symbol or phrase spray-painted on a wall by a member of a street gang, some graffiti is not gang-related. Graffiti can be understood as antisocial behaviour performed in order to gain attention or as a form of thrill seeking, but it also can be understood as an expressive art form.

The Britannica seems to take a generally negative view of graffiti. Perhaps someone has spray painted a Britannica building.

What used to be a crime (vandalism) is now considered haute culture when the criminal expects to be rewarded for his (or her) crime.

Tell me again, who is running the asylum?





PLAGIARISM is the act of appropriating the literary composition of another, or parts or passages of his writings, or the ideas or language of the same, and passing them off as the product of one’s own mind.

BCPLANNER: Comments on “Street art”