Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Is Coopting Graffiti Artist's Street Cred A Fair Use?; Mondaq, 12/5/16

Nicholas M. O'Donnell, Mondaq; Is Coopting Graffiti Artist's Street Cred A Fair Use? :
"The estate of Dashiell "Dash" Snow, better known as graffiti artist "Secret Snow"— has sued McDonald's over allegedly infringing use of Snow's street art in McDonald's dining rooms. The lawsuit in the Central District of California is the latest in a series of cases in which street artists are asserting their rights in copyright without any concession about whether the creation has other legal issues (i.e., trespassing or vandalism). Based on the survival of other recent similar cases, this latest case could be a headache for the giant restaurant chain, though it may have interesting fair use arguments based on the contrasting nature of the street vs. corporate uses...
The Dash Complaint also picks up on the theory that survived dismissal in the Tierney v. Moschino case involving street artist "Rime"—namely, that identifiers in the images themselves violate the "copyright management information" (CMI) provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C. § 1202. This is somewhat different than the Tierney case, however, because in that matter the plaintiff alleged that deleting his signature interfered with CMI, while here Dash's estate argues that the presence of his signature creates an unwarranted association between him and McDonald's.
The case is a reminder of how quickly what was once examined has now become routine—the idea that street art, whether or not painted on property with permission—can be protected under copyright."

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