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Politics & Law Series: Research Spotlight

In defence of street art and graffiti

In his new book, Protecting Art in the Street, The City Law School’s Dr Enrico Bonadio explains with words and images, how copyright laws apply to street art and graffiti, and how they can be of help to creators within their artistic communities.
by John Stevenson (Senior Communications Officer)

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In his new book, Protecting Art in the Street (Dokument Press), The City Law School Reader in Intellectual Property Law, Dr Enrico Bonadio explains with words and images, how copyright laws apply to street art and graffiti, and how their creators can be assisted within their artistic communities.

508362Against the background of a marked increase in lawsuits involving corporations taken to court by street and graffiti artists because their artworks have been used and exploited without authorisation (e.g. in advertising campaigns, as backdrops in promotional videos, or as decorative elements of products), Dr Bonadio’s book is a welcome addition to the literature documenting this highly visual and exciting area.

Public space

Dr Bonadio says his book is a “copyright guide for street artists and writers”, intended to “explain complicated legal issues in layman's terms, sitting at the intersection between copyright and property laws”.

“I thought that a photographic book would more easily reach that target. Indeed, there is no better way to explain these issues than using photographs of actual works placed in the public space”.

Dr Bonadio has been researching the intellectual property aspects of grafitti and street art for several years, and has written extensively about UK street artist Banksy. He thought of producing this recent book while carrying out ethnographic research on copyright and street art.

I've taken pictures myself of artists and writers while they were painting walls, and many photographs have been given to me by artists I interviewed. Once my collection of images began to grow, I thought I could use these images to explain in a guide-style book some of the many copyright issues raised by art placed outdoors. That's how this book saw the light of the day.

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