Supreme Court Sets New Graffiti Mural Protection Precedent

For your IP Law News Story of the day, check out this one from fall of 2020, when the Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal, thus effectively cementing a landmark ruling in favor of the protection of graffiti murals.

Gerald Wolkoff owned a derelict warehouse, which he struck an agreement with local graffiti artists to use as a legal canvas for graffiti paintings. The warehouse/canvas became known as 5Pointz, and attracted painting talent from around the globe. Then, one morning in 2013, Wolkoff quietly had 5Pointz whitewashed, later saying it was to avoid a ‘protracted, painful destruction’ of all the art when he knocked down his warehouse to build luxury apartments on the lot instead. The artists of 5Pointz were outraged, and took him to court.

Some people may not immediately consider graffiti murals to be a kind of Intellectual Property, but any creation affixed to a permanent medium is considered IP enough for copyright protection. Good IP laws and precedents protect the fire of creativity by enshrining the rights of artists, inventors, and other people who create new things.

Check out this article about the situation from the New York Times.