Wooster Collective announced tonight that they have been and will continue to be working with Art.com to solve a very frustrating problem that many street artists face: Photographers will take pictures of street art and graffiti and then license those images to online and physical shops around the world so that they can be printed onto t-shirts, canvases, posters, bags, clocks, and other knick knacks. The street artists and graffiti writers get no money from the sale of these photographs. While I’m not a big fan of our current copyright laws and I’d rather they be much more lax, this is pretty clearly a case where the morally right thing to do would be to pay the artists whenever possible.
Art.com is a major online seller of these offending photographs. According to Marc and Sara Schiller of Wooster Collective and at the couple’s urging, Art.com “has agreed to remove every photograph of street art in which the artist who’s work is in the photograph is not being compensated, and does not want photographs of their street work to be sold in this manner.”
As for how things will work under this new arrangement, the Schillers write:
While we’re still working out the details, in the coming weeks we will be working with Art.com to help identify the artists who’s work is being featured in over 600 street art photographs currently being sold on the site. If the artist wishes to have the photograph removed, Art.com has agreed to remove it. If the artist wishes to replace the existing unauthorized photograph with a new photograph or image that they own themselves, we will be assisting the artist in putting a licensing agreement in place for their work to be sold on the site.
This is exciting news for street artists and graffiti writers everywhere. It doesn’t solve the problem entirely since Art.com is not the only company currently selling street artists’ work in this manner, but it is a step in the right direction. The exact copyright issues could be debated in court, but Art.com has done the right thing in offering artists the opportunity to control their work if they wish to do so.
This all came about because the Schillers and Evan Pricco (Editor-in-Chief of Juxtapoz) will be having a public conversation this coming Thursday evening in NYC at an event sponsored by Art.com.
Read more about Art.com’s new policy and the upcoming conversation between Marc, Sara, and Evan over at Wooster Collective.
Photo by canonsnapper