As Graffiti Art’s Commercial Viability Rises, Graffitists Are Bringing More Legal Claims

GraffitiBagA recent complaint filed by a London-based graffiti artist against a New York fashion boutique seems to be part of a growing trend of street artists asserting their intellectual property rights. 

Mark Allsop, known better as “Malarko Hernandez” or “Malarky” has sued the Bandier boutique, famous for its expensive yoga attire, for allegedly appropriating his wall art for clothing and accessories. Bandier had apparently gone to Malarky with a proposal to license his work. 

He never approved any of their plans, but in December 2015, the Manhattan boutique included his work—as well as his name—in a big promotional campaign. Malarky sued, alleging trademark and personality rights claims. 

This development might be considered a point of tension in the street artist community—in which opposition to commercialism or authority is considered part of an artist’s street cred and identity. 

Furthermore, the fact that a significant portion of might itself violate the rights of property owners or vandalism laws puts significant brakes on any wave of graffitists bringing their cases to a court—certainly one of the most prominent symbols of authority and convention. 

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