Updated: Apr 8, 2018
The retailer claimed it could use street artist Revok's work in a marketing campaign without payment. Turns out they're wrong. They've since dropped a suit against the artist.
In a win for artists' rights, H&M backed down from a lawsuit filed last week against a street artist over the use of his work in a massive marketing campaign.
Revok (@revok) sent the fast-retail clothier a cease and desist order after they went national with a video campaign for their "New Routine" line. In response, H&M filed a lawsuit saying basically that because Revok painted the wall illegally, he had no claim to copyright. Well, that was bullshit.
Legality is not a standard for copyright. The only two standards for copyright is that the work is original and "fixed in a tangible medium of expression." (Basically, it needs to be something you can see or hold. The idea of lines against a wall aren't copyrightable, but once they're drawn, they are copyrightable.)
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H&M's assault is just one in a long line of corporations not valuing artists' work. Ahol Sniffs Glue (@aholsniffsglue), who sprayed a killer mural of his famous droopy eyes in Denver's RiNo district, had to sue American Eagle after the apparel brand blatantly capitalized on one of his murals in Miami's famous Wynwood district. American Eagle started using the distinctive wall as a backdrop in a worldwide marketing campaign and its in-store art.
Ahol Sniffs Glue and American Eagle ended up settling, but it's sad that street artists and graffiti artists need to continue fighting this battle.