Flipping a Coin for Copyrightability of Illegally Placed Street Art

9 Baku St. U. L.Rev. 1 (2023)
Article language: English.

Street art is visual art usually placed in public locations, such as on buildings or train cars. Once upon a time, this concept was being treated very stringently within the borders of criminal law. So that, graffiti used to be scrutinised as criminal behaviour or vandalism. We all know how the “Subway Surfers” game starts, do not we? However, tables have turned, and graffitti are now under the umbrella of a concept called an art – street art. Even discussions were commenced on the copyrightability of street art. The uprising role of this concept took this debate to another level, granting copyright protection to even illegally placed street art. But the runner in “Subway Surfers” still runs because the act of painting surfaces unsolicitedly is still considered illegal. That is why granting copyright protection for illegally placed street art is controversial, especially when the “unclean hands” doctrine is on the other side of the scale. Furthermore, if illegally placed street art gets copyright protection, the discussions will potentially extend to what economic and moral rights street artists can have. This article will address the issues of copyright protection for street art (both legally and illegally placed) and the potential economic and moral rights of street artists.

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