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L.A. ‘s Graffiti, Tattoos and Copyright Infringement

L.A. 's Graffiti, Tattoos and Copyright Infringement


RUN DMC Posing Against Graffiti

L.A. does have its drama. The first piece of “street art” commissioned by L.A.’s Museum of Contemporary Art was erased for being too incendiary and the topic of what is permitted to be brought to the public – be it art, graffiti, tattoos, fiction feature or documentary films — became widely discussed, a good thing in itself. Now Thierry Guetta, the Los Angeles man whose conversion into graffiti artist Mr. Brainwash was detailed in Exit From the Gift Shop, has lost a major court ruling that could affect how artists’ rights are viewed going forward. Federal judge Dean Pregerson ruled that Guetta did not have the right to use Glen E. Friedman’s iconic photo of Run DMC and alter it in a piece of his own.

The decision might be the beginning of a massive limiting of the fair use defense enjoyed by artists to copyright claims,says The Hollywood Reporter’s Eriq Gardner. (Thank you Kevin Broderick of L.A. Observed.)

British artist Banksy will sponsor free admission at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA every Monday for the duration of the Art in the Streets exhibition.

I don’t think you should have to pay to look at graffiti. You should only pay if you want to get rid of it, said Banksy.

S. Victor Whitmill, the tattooist who gave boxer Mike Tyson his Maori-inspired facial tattoo,has filed a lawsuit against Warner Bros. for Hangover 2‘s use of the tattoo.



(Warner Bros)

Can the Maori People sue Whitmill and win? The bold graphic design tattoo done in black ink that is widely known within the tattooing community as belonging to the “tribal tattoo genre”… is a heavily modified western tattoo style derived from the traditional tattooing normally associated with the peoples of Borneo, Polynesian and Micronesia. (Ta Moko: The Art of Maori Tattoo, By D.R.Simmons) Tyson’s tattoo appears to be based around a pair of puhoro koru.

The comment of a reader of Inside Movies, EW Weekly, known as KS. has the right idea: This reminds me of the lawsuit Fox News slapped on Al Franken when he used their copyrighted phrase “Fair and Balanced” in the title of his book as a joke, and Fox News was laughed out of court. It came down to First Amendment precedents; the use of the tattoo as parody might fall under Freedom of Expression.

My final question is, What about the African American People’s rights? Have you noticed that they are the ones creating all this controversy in the first place? What’s their role in all this? Do they get credit or do they get sued? Power to the People!

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