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Saturday, May 07, 2005

Graffiti and Copyright

I ran into a friend today who was selling photos of graffiti. By her photos, she honors and perpetuates an art form that is often painted over within hours of its creation. She is also creating copyrighted works, as she chooses the framing, lighting, etc. for her photographs. Query: is she violating a copyright owned by the original graffitists? Basically, copyright exists from the moment of creation of any work of art, and I believe displaying a work without a copyright notice no longer voids the copyright. Is the fact that the medium involves illegal use of another's property at all relevant to copyright issues?

Note that I'm not sufficiently motivated in my pursuit of knowledge to actually research this question, or not yet anyway....

Pragmatically speaking, it would have to be a fairly bold graffiti artists who would approach the courts with a claim to be the creator, unless they had permission from the building/railroad car owner to create their art in that location. Not to mention the difficulty of proving copyright ownership.

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