For the half-year to 30 June 2014, the IPKat's regular team is supplemented by contributions from guest bloggers Alberto Bellan, Darren Meale and Nadia Zegze.

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Sunday, 31 August 2003

ADVERTISING AND GRAFFITI – TWO SIDES OF THE SAME COIN?

The IPKat spotted an article in the LA Times highlighting the similarities between advertising and graffiti. According to Crispin Sartwell: “Both convey messages by occupying public space; indeed, both are omnipresent and unavoidable. At the upper reaches of excellence both are arts, though they are more often merely puerile and annoying noise.” However, while advertising is legal, graffiti is considered criminal. Sartwell attributes this distinction to money: advertising is paid for and is the “public expression of wealthy people and organizations” while graffiti is “the public expression of people who are more or less broke.”

Sartwell goes on to consider the interface between the two: culture-jamming, where advertising billboards are altered with subversive messages, focusing particularly on the art of Ron English, who is responsible for such works as a toe-tagged cadaver with the legend “Forever Kool” (Kool is a North American brand of cigarettes) and “Camel Kids”, featuring child versions of Joe Camel, the Camel cigarette mascot.

The IPKat says: “This is an area of IP law where there are no easy answers. On the one hand, if advertising is legally protected from all by third parties, it constitutes a ubiquitous one-way conversation between the advertiser and the public. On the other hand, courts generally feel unhappy about artists riding roughshod over other peoples’ property rights in the interests of free speech.”

Da do Ron Ron? Click here (track 9)
Learn how to read graffiti here
Learn how to remove graffiti here
Feeling subversive? Buy your spraypaint here



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