The debate over graffiti and fair use rages on with the newest addition to the list of lawsuits against big brands. Artnet reports that four graffiti artists are suing Vince Camuto, a huge designer shoe and clothing brand, for using their artwork to sell stuff.
Four artists, Joseph Tierney (Rime); Cary Patraglia (Host18); Spencer Valdez (Taboo); and Keith Rowland (Reme), claim they painted murals on Morgan Avenue and in Boerum Hill in 2015 and 2016 which were then used by Vince Camuto for a 2017 advertising campaign aptly-titled “Bushwick Beats.”
The complaint states that “still images of the Murals taken from the campaign were featured throughout Camuto’s website as well as on third-party retailers such as Macy’s. The campaign videos were also broadcast in New York City taxicabs and retail stores.”
Sergio Muñoz Sarmiento an art law expert told Artnet that just because the art is publicly displayed doesn’t mean it isn’t protected by intellectual property laws. Yes, people take photos in front of murals all the time, but they don’t use those photos to sell shoes or to associate artists with their “brand.”
McDonald’s recently ended up in hot water when they worked with the Bushwick Collective on an advertising campaign but used additional artwork by artists who had not given their permission.
As more and more corporations capitalize on Bushwick’s aesthetic to sell products, expect to see more of these lawsuits.
Photo via Vince Camuto.