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   Who owns rights to photos of graffiti?
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   Author  Topic: Who owns rights to photos of graffiti?  (Read 6774 times)
Ed Mez
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Who owns rights to photos of graffiti?
« on: Mar 31st, 2004, 6:01pm »
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I have taken many photos of graffiti around NYC and now would like to use them to sell as postcards.  
 
The photos show some entire graffiti pieces, and some show only parts that I found to be interesting.  In every case the graffiti was part of a large wall of many different paintings.  The walls were always on government property (housing projects, urban schools) or the sides of buildings.  I did not photograph any murals that were clearly commissioned as decoration for a business.
 
Do I own the copyright to the photos I took, or do I face the possibility tha
 
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Ed Mez
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Re: Who owns rights to photos of graffiti?
« Reply #1 on: Mar 31st, 2004, 6:04pm »
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(sorry, got cut off) ...the possibility that one of the "artists" will sue me for infringement?  
 
In some cases the graffiti has been there for a while, so the act of painting on those walls may be "condoned" by the owner and not entirely illegal.
 
Thanks for anyone's advice.
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Isaac
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Re: Who owns rights to photos of graffiti?
« Reply #2 on: Mar 31st, 2004, 8:37pm »
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Yes it is possible, and I think the artist would have a case too.    
 
I think the fact that the artist did not have permission to paint the wall is not particularly helpful to you.
 
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Isaac
M. Arthur Auslander
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Re: Who owns rights to photos of graffiti?
« Reply #3 on: Apr 1st, 2004, 6:30am »
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Dear Mr. Mez.
 
Without, resesarch or taking professional responsibility, my belief is that if there is no copyright notice on the graffiti that you are safe until you have been given notice of a registered copyright. In view of the public nature of the graffiti the pictures may have a news value that overrides any copyright, if there is no notice.
 
If you sold photographs of Times Square with all the adds and pictures, it would seem wierd to me for you to be sued for copyright infringement of all the adds etc.
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M. Arthur Auslander
Auslander & Thomas-Intellectual Property Law
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Isaac
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Re: Who owns rights to photos of graffiti?
« Reply #4 on: Apr 1st, 2004, 8:56am »
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Mr. Auslander,
 
Could you expand a little on why you feel registration and notice are important in this context.  
 
My understanding is that notice and registration are formalities which while having legal signficance are irrelevant to the issue of whether or not an activity is infringing.
 
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Isaac
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