Copyright Beyond Law: Regulating Creativity in the Graffiti Subculture

Copyright Beyond Law: Regulating Creativity in the Graffiti Subculture

by Marta Iljadica


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The form of graffiti writing on trains and walls is not accidental. Nor is its absence on cars and houses. Employing a particular style of letters, choosing which walls and trains to write on, copying another writer, altering or destroying another writer's work: these acts are regulated within the graffiti subculture. Copyright Beyond Law presents findings from empirical research undertaken into the graffiti subculture to show that graffiti writers informally regulate their creativity through a system of norms that are remarkably similar to copyright. The 'graffiti rules' and their copyright law parallels include: the requirement of writing letters (subject matter) and appropriate placement (public policy and morality exceptions for copyright subsistence and the enforcement of copyright), originality and the prohibition of copying (originality and infringement by reproduction), and the prohibition of damage to another writer's works (the moral right of integrity). The intersection between the 'graffiti rules' and copyright law sheds light on the creation of subculture-specific commons and the limits of copyright law in incentivising and regulating the production and location of creativity.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781509927944
Publisher: Bloomsbury Academic
Publication date: 03/21/2019
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 328
Product dimensions: 6.14(w) x 9.21(h) x 0.69(d)

About the Author

Marta Iljadica is Lecturer in Intellectual Property at the University of Glasgow.

Table of Contents

Shout Outs v

A Note on Pictures vii

Introduction 1

Commons, Creativity and Norms 1

Outline of Chapters 3

Panel I Context

1 Graffiti History and Development 9

Introduction 9

Historical Development 9

Defining Graffiti Writing (and Street Art) 10

Origins of Graffiti Writing 13

Transplanting the Subculture 17

The London/UK Scene 19

Elements of the Subculture 21

Motivations and Identity 22

Fame and Hierarchy 23

Visibility, Placement and Style 27

Illegality and the Graffiti Rules 30

Conclusion 31

2 Copyright, Creativity and Commons 32

Introduction 32

Justifications for Copyright 32

Creativity and Commons 39

Creativity as Process, Pleasure and Space 39

Copyright, Culture and the Public Domain 43

Graffiti and the 'Bounded Commons' 49

Graffiti in the Physical and Intellectual Commons 49

The Graffiti-Specific Commons 52

Alternative Frameworks 56

Norms and Rules, Customs and Practice 56

Regulating Creativity Without Copyright Law 58

Conclusion 61

3 Methodology: Reflections on Fieldwork 63

Introduction 63

Empirical Research on Graffiti 64

Choice of Research Methodology 66

Data Gathering 67

Setting 68

Participants 70

Interviews 73

Supplementary Sources 77

Data Analysis 80

Conclusion 83

Panel II Form

4 Copyright-Subject Matter 87

Introduction 87

Qualification 88

Graffiti Writing as a 'Work' 89

Graffiti Writing as an Artistic Work 91

Graffiti Writing as a Literary Work 95

Graffiti Writing as a Literary and an Artistic Work 97

Graffiti Writing as a 'Work' and a Trade Mark 98

Fixation and Permanence 99

Fixation of Literary Works 100

Materiality of Artistic Works 100

Public Policy and Illegality 102

Conclusion 108

5 Graffiti Rules-Write Letters, Choose Spots 109

Introduction 109

Writing Letters 110

Writing and Writers 110

Types of Writing 111

Ways of Writing 113

Copyright Beyond Copyright-Subject Matter 114

Appropriate Placement 118

Visibility and the Hierarchy of Placement 119

Public versus Private Property Placement 122

'Personal' Property and Respect/Morals 124

'Personal' Property Commercial Property and Urban Aesthetics 125

Trains and Tracksides as Public/Private Property 127

Placement, Commons and Political Justifications 128

Copyright Beyond Copyright-Morality and Space 130

Placement, Permanence and (Im)materiality 133

Copyright Beyond Copyright-Materiality and Permanence 135

Conclusion 138

Panel III Copying

6 Copyright-Originality and Infringement 141

Introduction 141

Originality 142

Graffiti Writing as an Original Literary Work 143

Graffiti Writing as an Original Artistic Work 147

Authorship, Joint Authorship and Ownership 155

Infringement 157

Reproduction of Literary and Artistic Works 157

Reproduction of Graffiti as an Original Literary Work-Names 159

Reproduction of Graffiti as an Original Artistic Work-Style 159

Intellectual Creation, Reproduction and the Adaptation of Graffiti Style 166

Communication to the Public of Literary and Artistic Works 168

Distribution of Artistic Works 170

Defences to Infringement 170

Fair Dealing for Research or Private Study 171

Fair Dealing for Reporting Current Events 173

Conclusion 173

7 Giaffiti Rules-Be Original, Don't Bite 175

Introduction 175

Style and Originality 175

Novelty and Stylistic Heritage 179

Identifying Biting and Justifying Sanctions 183

Style and Skill (Can Control) 187

Copyright Beyond Copyright-Originality and Copying 189

Originality and the Name 194

Copyright Beyond Copyright-Marks Without Trade 198

Exceptions for Biting 199

Blackbooks 200

Tags, Commons and Territory 201

Shout outs 203

Copying Within Crews 204

Copyright Beyond Copyright-Exceptions and the Commons 205

Conclusion 207

8 Moral Rights 211

Introduction 211

Preconditions for Moral Rights 211

Public Exhibition 212

Communication to the Public and Commercial Publication 214

Attribution, False Attribution and Integrity 216

Mural Right of Attribution 218

Moral Right Against False Attribution 224

Moral Right of Integrity 225

Moral Rights and Communal Creativity 233

Conclusion 234

9 Graffiti Rules-Don't Go Over 235

Introduction 235

Norm Against Interference 236

Style, Skill and Respect 238

Placement, Territory and Commons 242

Copyright Beyond Copyright-Spatialised Moral Rights 243

Sanctions and Subcultural Politics 247

Going Over and Other Sanctions 248

Going Over and Beef 251

Copyright Beyond Copyright-Damage and Damages 253

Conclusion 253

Panel V Interactions

10 Graffiti Rules and Copyright Law 257

Introduction 257

Copyright and Public Placement 258

Land, Chattels and Copyright 258

Public Exhibition 262

The Section 62 Exception 263

Graffiti Writers' Rules for Non-writers 265

Approval (or Tolerance) of Sharing 265

Disapproval of Commercial Copying 270

Graffiti Rules for Copyright 272

Revising the Public Placement Exception 275

Introducing 'Fair Use', Making Use of Quotation 277

Strengthening Moral Rights 284

Conclusion 284

Conclusion 287

Convergence and Divergence: Justifying Copyright? 289

Space, Pleasure, Resistance 293

Creativity, Space and Pleasure 293

Graffiti Rules as Resistance 295

Where Next? 299

Index 301

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