The exact amount that Chrysler has paid to TATS Cru, the Bronx based graffiti artist, for use of their mural in a Fiat commercial hasn’t been disclosed… although I applaud the two sides for coming to an agreement.
Is a Graffiti Mural protected by copyright? YES, YES, YES!! All it takes is ORIGINALITY to qualify for copyright protection… and in this instance there wasn’t any question about the mural being original.
Should Chrysler have known that the mural was protected by copyright? YES, YES, YES!! Because, there is a copyright notice painted into the lower right hand corner of the mural: “©2010 TATS Cru” (I applaud TATS Cru for being diligent and including the copyright notice). Even if there hadn’t been a copyright notice on the mural it still has copyright protection and Chrysler should have done some research. The exact reason that Chrysler included the mural in their commercial (to give authenticity as to the commercial which features JLo in the Bronx singing about strength while driving through the neighborhood where she grew up) should have been a HUGE indicator that the mural is original and covered by copyright protection. IT’S NO EXCUSE “not to know” a work is covered by copyright protection. Using a copyright protected work without permission is copyright infringement – and ignoring a copyright notice on a work is even worse. Both are illegal… and ignoring a copyright notice can triple the damages owed.
What do you do if your copyright is infringed? In this case, TATS Cru reached out to Fiat/Chrysler via their lawyer and reached a settlement. The exact amount that TATS Cru was paid hasn’t been disclosed, although both parties have announced that they are excited to be collaborating. As part of the deal that was struck… a Fiat has been given to TATS Cru to paint and auction off to a charity of their choice.
I ❤ the Bronx, too! A lot can be learned about the art of making a deal in the Bronx!
BY: Vanessa Kaster, Esq., LL.M.
For more information: http://tatscru.net/commercial. The mural is located at 1156 E. 165th St. in the Bronx. Watch the commercial – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=deNRiBQiQ3Q. http://wheels.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/11/28/in-the-bronx-a-collision-of-cars-celebrity-and-copyright/; http://latino.foxnews.com; http://www.nypost.com; @iplegalfreebies and www.kasterlegal.com.