Copyright Question

Is it “Copyright Infringement” if you take a picture of graffiti or artwork on the side of a vacant building and keep it for personal viewing?

I was under the impression that it is legal - in the U.S. - to take pictures of just about anything - including people in most circumstances - and there isn’t a whole lot people can do or say. (Particularly if you are taking the photos from public areas, e.g. park, street, or sidewalk).



Here’s an interesting read which follows this subject ideally:

I think the answer falls under the same for almost ALL public photographs - as long as you don’t break any laws to take it, you can take any picture you want - selling it and/or displaying it publicly becomes the issue. You can run into issues selling pictures of others without their permission (public figures and events can even make this murky).

I know someone who took a picture of a building mural and the apparent artist flipped out and started screaming about breaking copyright law?!

People are so clueless and hostile in today’s world…


The artist was wrong…it could only be considered breaking copyright laws if that person who took the picture tried to resell it (and even that is arguable if you look at the link I provided you).

What is disturbing is how this artist reacted. (Shoot first, then aim.)

My friend’s intent was to find out about the students who helped create other artwork next to the mural, and this artist responded with, “You better be careful or else!!”

What is wrong with this world?

It seems like anyone under 40 doesn’t have enough “memory cache” to be able to comprehend anything over 140 characters…

The whole story sounded obnoxious.

Glad it wasn’t me dealing with this brat!


Isn’t placing graffiti or artwork on a vacant building vandalism in itself. I would shoot back and report him/her to the police.

My understanding is that this was a mural done on a building - with permission - which is now vacant.

But I think what “floored” my friend is how hostile the person who did the mural was.

In actuality, the picture of the mural was just taken as a reminder and as a way to find out who did all of the artwork in that area. My friend actually wanted to know who the kids were that did some smaller work and not the mural itself.

So for anyone who can read more than 140 characters, the e-mail sent was pretty clear that my friend was interested in finding out about the student artists and not the adult who did the mural.

Does it ever make sense to respond to a friendly inquiry with a THREAT?? :-/

If I had any artistic abilities - which I do not - and someone inquired about something I did, my first response would be, “Did you like it??” versus “You better be careful or else I’m gonna…”

You would think people would be flattered that someone would show interest or take a picture of your work?

(A far cry from making a copy and selling it in quantities of millions on the Black Market?!) :rolleyes:

Such an angry world… :frowning:



In the Dutch copyright law:

  • The artist has the copyright on his art. In general: for taking & publishing a photo of the artwork the consent of the artist is needed.
  • Exception is art in public places (as a wallpainting on a building, to see from the public street).
  • In this case the making/publishing of a photo of the artwork is not a copyright infringement.
  • But there is the condition, that the photo has to represent “the work as it is over there”.
  • That means: a photo of a building with a wallpainting on it is allowed, but when it is a close-up of only the wallpainting (or a part of the wallpainting), it is not allowed.

Summary of the article “[U]Photographing art in public places[/U]” (Google translation).
The same is applicable for statues in public places.

Auguste Rodin and Frédéric Bartholdi can not protest[/CENTER]
I suppose in other countries it is more or less the same.
But not all angry young artists do know the laws… :wink:

If I had experienced a situation as I seem to understand took place as outlined in this thread I would have told the weird mouth blabbing at me about getting permission bla-bla-bla that I was actually taking a picture for evidence of how my friend’s fine art-like work on the exterior of that building had been defaced by some jerk with a multi-color brain and that my friend who had done the original surfacing that was now covered up was furious because the building owner hadn’t consulted with him before that weird artist had splashed all that nonsense all over what was before that a fine piece of work.

I’ll bet that artist type would take a step or two backwards after hearing that weird line of defense. Might even take enough time in thought for me to make good my escape without hearing any more blabbing.