|Title:||Painting on Walls: Street Art without Copyright?|
|Citation:||Iljadica, M., 'Painting on Walls: Street Art without Copyright?', in Darling, K. and Perzanowski, A. (eds.), Creativity Without Law: Challenging the Assumptions of Intellectual Property, New York University Press, New York, 2017, pp. 277–332.|
|Key Related Studies:|
|About the Data|
|Data Description:||The study consists of semi-structured interviews with 29 creators (consisting of 21 graffiti writers, 6 street artists and 3 others). The study is augmented by supplementary data, including relevant print media and online sources. Thereafter, the data was analysed using grounded theory to infer broader themes.|
|Data Type:||Primary data|
|Secondary Data Sources:|
|Data Collection Methods:|
|Data Analysis Methods:|
|Cross Country Study?:||No|
|Government or policy study?:||No|
|Time Period(s) of Collection:||
“Although graffiti images are copyright eligible in the abstract, the inherently illicit act of spray painting private property without permission complicates efforts to rely on formal law. Marta Iljadica’s empirical research on the graffiti subculture in London demonstrates that despite its illegality, graffiti writing has rules. Those rules address questions of subject matter, originality, and copying common to any expressive work. But they also extend to concerns unique to the graffiti context. Because graffiti is inextricably tied to the physical environment, it raises questions of placement: which structures are appropriate canvasses for graffiti writings and which are off-limits? And because available real estate is limited, graffiti writers must confront scarcity: Under what conditions is it permissible to cover another artist’s work with your own? So while the rules of graffiti writing parallel those of formal copyright law in some ways, they also go beyond it to confront a set of problems graffiti writers are themselves best suited to address.”
Main Results of the Study
• Graffiti and street artists’ motivation for creation are largely intrinsic and relate to the satisfaction in the process of creation itself, self-expression, and the desire to share work widely in a public space. Copyright’s economic incentives are thus largely irrelevant to incentivising creativity in this community.
• Social norms emulate and replace the need for formal copyright enforcement in this community. For example, the community has rules against literal copying or ‘biting’, but an allowance for the borrowing of abstract ideas and concepts (akin to prohibitions against reproduction, and the idea/expression dichotomy).
• Copying by the public is accepted, and to an extent, encouraged by the community. This acceptance is however rejected where commerciality is introduced, and particularly where there is no compensation to the original street art or graffiti artist.
Policy Implications as Stated By Author
The study does not make any explicit policy recommendations.
Coverage of Study
|Level of aggregation:||Individual|
|Period of material under study:||April 2010 - September 2011|