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Developer loses copyright law appeal concerning graffiti artists

On Behalf of | Mar 1, 2020 | Copyright Law

Artists of all mediums contribute valuable work to society. They enrich people’s lives while creatively expressing themselves. If someone else misuses or destroys their artwork, it may be a violation of copyright law and that artist may want to pursue civil litigation against those responsible. One developer here in New York recently lost his appeal in a case where accusers say that he whitewashed over artwork created by graffiti artists. Many say he destroyed the artists’ art, while he claims that was not his intention.

The developer owned a piece of property that was a popular place in the 1990s for graffiti artists to paint. Artists commonly called the place 5Pointz. It was so popular it became a tourist attraction due to the art created on it. The developer eventually decided that he wanted to build condo towers on the area and he whitewashed over all of the graffiti art.

Artists took him to court saying that he didn’t give any of them time to try and preserve their work. This, they claimed, was a violation of the Visual Artists Rights Act. A court agreed, and despite the developer’s appeal, he has been ordered to pay $6.75 million to the 21 artists in the suit. The developer claims he didn’t whitewash over the art to be cruel, but the artists do not seem to hold a high opinion of him and think this case will help demonstrate the value of their art.

This unusual case shows just how important it is that artists of all varieties ensure that their creations are legally protected. Those here in New York may want to consult an experienced copyright law attorney to determine the best way to do just that. Art is a valuable part of life and giving artists an opportunity for legal recourse shows just how important it is.