- January 2016
How much is that Banksy by my window?
Bristol-born artist Banksy could at any time pop up in your neighbour-hood, under cover and unannounced, and spray paint your property creating one of his original works. At a value of around half a million pounds it could out-value your home!
Because of the high value of Banksy’s sought–after graffiti it was inevitable that the legal issues regarding the art and its ownership would need to be clarified. First of all, the law relating to copyright under the 1988 Act is engaged. If the necessary amount of skill and judgment is used to create the work of art, then the artist owns the right to control the way the work is used for 70 years. Banksy could therefore claim copyright for the work on your wall but could not claim ownership of the material on which he had sprayed it, the bricks of the wall.
In a recent High Court case, the tenant of a Commercial Building which he ran as an amusement arcade, woke up one day to discover a Banksy on its wall. He took the unusual step of removing the exterior part of the wall on which the mural was painted, and sent the removed section to the USA for sale at auction without telling his landlord. The landlord was not pleased and took out an action in this country for an injunction to stop the sale and to claim ownership of the Banksy.
The determined tenant put up a spirited, and imaginative defence to the claim saying the Banksy, as graffiti, had damaged the building which he - as a tenant - was obliged to repair, and his chosen method was to chip it off, rather than painting over or cleaning it off. The court accepted that the Banksy graffiti had “damaged” the structure of the building, but the extreme repair choice was excessive, and that as every part of the property belonged to the landlord, so did the Banksy.
If Banksy had chosen to get involved in the case who knows what the outcome would have been!
For further information contact Paul Stevens on 01379 643555 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article provides only a general summary and is not intended to be comprehensive. Special legal advice should be taken in any individual situation.