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Creativity without LawChallenging the Assumptions of Intellectual Property$
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Kate Darling and Aaron Perzanowski

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781479841936

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9781479841936.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM NYU Press SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.nyu.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of NYU Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in NYSO for personal use.date: 20 May 2022

Painting on Walls

Painting on Walls

Street Art without Copyright?

(p.118) 5 Painting on Walls
Creativity without Law

Marta Iljadica

NYU Press

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.

Keywords:   intellectual property, law, norms, copyright, creativity, graffiti, street art, subculture, communities, incentives

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