Copyright Fridays! Graffiti is protected by federal law: the Long Island City 5Pointz verdict

Attitudes towards graffiti have changed radically over the past 30 years. Now, there’s typically a legal contract and mutual agreement between real estate developers and mural artists to create the beautiful works you see on the sides of buildings all over Tampa Bay and in many cities in the world. While the differences between “mural art” and “graffiti” can still be disputed, the case illustrated in the article below proves that any artwork has worth and is protected by federal law.

The Long Island City 5Pointz building was spectacular (I was living in New York at the time when this divisive issue was being discussed), and it drew in tourists and natives alike to LIC. That this case took so long is a testament to how complicated copyright law can be, especially when it comes to artists’ rights.

In a Surprise Verdict, Jury Says Developer Broke the Law by Whitewashing 5Pointz Graffiti Mecca

But the judge has yet to make his final ruling.

A federal court jury in Brooklyn has handed a preliminary victory to a group of graffiti and aerosol artists in a closely watched case that pitted the rights of street artists against those of a property developer.

The six-person jury found that real estate developer Gerald Wolkoff and his related companies broke the law when, in 2014, he whitewashed the 5Pointz graffiti mecca in Long Island City in the middle of the night. However, the jury decision will serve only as a recommendation to the case’s presiding judge, Frederick Block, who has yet to hand down a final verdict and assess whether any damages must be paid…..read more

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