Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Mr. Brainwash Loses Another Lawsuit

Mr. Brainwash has just finished another court battle regarding his use of stenciled images from photographs in his street art and gallery work--and Mr. Brainwash lost again.

The first one centered around Brainwash's use of an iconic Run DMC photo. This latest case is based around MBW's being sued for using a classic photo of Sid Vicious taken by Dennis Morris.  MBW is accused of using it without permission.

A federal judge ruled that while MBW's artwork does add some "new elements" to the original pieces, however, the new elements did not change it enough.   The judge said that "the overall effect is not transformative".

This type of evaluation can be a double-edged sword, as demonstrated by the recent case of LA street artist Euthanasia against Green Day.  Green Day had used a gently modified version of one of Euth's images as a back drop for their North American Concert tour years ago, without ever getting permission from Euth.  Euth lost his case when a federal judge tossed it out after Euth testified that putting a red cross on the image (what Green Day did), "maliciously devalues the original intent".  But that, the judge said, made it transformative, so Euth lost the case.

The judge also rejected Brainwash's argument that 'appropriation art per se' should be protected by fair use.  The terms of the settlement and damages from this case have not yet been determined.

This case might have a big impact on the world of street art, since so many artists use iconic photos celebrity photos in their art work.  It seems like when it comes to an original image, you can't use it unless you ruin it?  Then its okay?

What do M&F's think?  How will this decision effect the street art world?

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