McDonalds facing a string of copyright infringement suits

Written by Margaret Briffa | October 14, 2016


Oh dear oh dear, what is the matter with McDonalds? Their corporate website is full of warm and fluffy statements about how seriously they take their corporate social responsibility. They are into ‘Recycling’, ‘Reusing’ and Supporting youngsters and the community.’  Really – how come then that they are facing a string of copyright infringement suits from graffiti artists over the reproduction of their work in McDonald outlets both sides of the Atlantic. Seems the recycling and reusing may be without permission and as for supporting the young and communities why not haul an artist in from the road next to the restaurant and bung them a few quid to graffiti the whole joint if you think that’s the way to go. The very idea of sourcing work to reproduce when you have the artist right there eating your burgers seems plan daft. That is not what street art is and no wonder that a number of artists are concerned that their work is devalued once sprayed all over the burger bar walls and lamp shades. The latest suit has been brought by the estate of Snow. It seems the claim being brought by the girlfriend and owner of the work of the late Snow was issued only after the request to remove the work was refused. The artist who died in 2008 aged 27 was a legend in the field and part of a graffiti crew known as IRAK. Clearly McDonalds think they can run some sort of plausible defence. In the US it is harder to establish a work qualifies for copyright as aesthetic merit more difficult to establish than in the UK. Still bearing in mind that multi-nationals need the goodwill of their customers to make money – getting into this sort of argument with graffiti artists doesn’t seem too clever.

Briffa advises on copyright. Get in touch to meet up or call us on +44 (0)20 70962779.

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