Ludlow Retailer Backs Artist RIME in Copyright Fight Against Moschino and Jeremy Scott

Posted on: May 10th, 2016 at 9:23 am by
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Many fashion designers out there seemingly think that the public nature of street art, illegal or not, grants a fair use to appropriate in fashion collections. Not the case, despite the reasonable expectation that the art would be widely shared. The problem is when companies and brands swipe the work for monetary gain and don’t license or attribute.

Indeed, we’ve seen several artists over the last few years sue designer brands for reappropreating their work into luxury goods. Maya Hayuk filed suit against Coach; Revok, Reyes, and Steel went against Robert Cavalli for willful infringement by using their mural (painted in San Francisco’s Mission District) in a clothing and accessories line.

Moschino is the latest offender, whose graphic designer, Jeremy Scott, allegedly pilfered the work of street writer RIME (aka Joseph Tierney) for the Fall 2015 collection. In a lawsuit filed last year, he claims Scott appropriated elements of the “Vandal Eyes” mural he painted on the side of a Detroit building in 2012. Katy Perry even wore one of the dresses that included a print.

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Moschino and Scott subsequently filed a motion to dismiss the case, but a judge denied in January. The legal proceedings will continue; the next court date is in a couple weeks.

In a show of solidarity, the Inutilious Retailer of Ludlow Street created a new window installation – Jeremy Scott Gallery of Free Inspiration (or Copying if you do the Same to Them) – sharply criticizing the label and Scott. The display includes a smattering of anti-Moschino paraphernalia.

“This potentially precedent setting legal case fits right in to my longstanding questioning of the perceived and legal value of art, fashion and street art,” store owner Adrian Wilson tells us. “Moschino are arguing that art which is created illegally cannot be given copyright protection, so If RIME loses this case, every single piece of illegal street art will be able to be used commercially without any permission or compensation to the artist who created it.”

Intellectual property rights as it relates to graffiti art will remain a slippery slope down the road. After all, the work is painted in public.

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