Corporate Rights, Public Rights, Copyrights

Sony Forced to Remove Illegal Sidewalk Ads (again).

Yesterday’s New York Times reports that New York City has issued a reprimand for just under 10 illegal sidewalk ads. Letters are sent to businesses who use these guerilla advertising techniques requesting that all illegal decals, stencils, and other items be removed from city owned property, and in the event they are not removed, further legal actions including fines may be taken.

It’s interesting to note the contrast between how corporate street art and non-corporate street art is addressed, with the latter acts of individual vandalism by private citizens often earning their perpetrators immediate fines, arrests, and possible jail time. There have even been recent cases where graffiti artists and protesters have been arrested for drawing on sidewalks with chalk.

On the other hand, when it comes to publicly sanctioned and funded sidewalk art, the artist has the upper hand thanks to overreaching copyright laws. Anyone who takes a photograph of the work once it’s placed in the (physical) public domain opens themselves up to exorbitant lawsuits that are usually settled out of court to the tune of thousands of dollars, as shown in a recent case where artist Jack Mackie sued photographer Mike Hipple for statutory damages long after all traces of the photograph were removed from image banks.


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