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Copyright beyond law : regulating creativity in the graffiti subculture / Marta Iljadica.
Iljadica, Marta, author.
Oxford, UK ; Portland, Oregon : Hart Publishing, 2016.
xiii, 310 pages ; 24 cm
Includes bibliographical references and index.
1849467773 hardback alkaline paper

9781849467773 hardback alkaline paper


Material Type
Call Number
Book K1460.I28

On Order



The form of graffiti writing on trains and walls is not accidental. Nor is its absence on cars and houses. Employing a particular style of letters, choosing which walls and trains to write on, copying another writer, altering or destroying another writer's work: these acts are regulated within the graffiti subculture. Copyright Beyond Law presents findings from empirical research undertaken into the graffiti subculture to show that graffiti writers informally regulate their creativity through a system of norms that are remarkably similar to copyright. The 'graffiti rules' and their copyright law parallels include: the requirement of writing letters (subject matter) and appropriate placement (public policy and morality exceptions for copyright subsistence and the enforcement of copyright), originality and the prohibition of copying (originality and infringement by reproduction), and the prohibition of damage to another writer's works (the moral right of integrity). The intersection between the 'graffiti rules' and copyright law sheds light on the creation of subculture-specific commons and the limits of copyright law in incentivising and regulating the production and location of creativity.

Author Notes

Marta Iljadica is Lecturer in Intellectual Property at the University of Glasgow.

Table of Contents

Shout Outsp. v
A Note on Picturesp. vii
Introductionp. 1
Commons, Creativity and Normsp. 1
Outline of Chaptersp. 3
Panel I
1 Graffiti History and Developmentp. 9
Introductionp. 9
Historical Developmentp. 9
Defining Graffiti Writing (and Street Art)p. 10
Origins of Graffiti Writingp. 13
Transplanting the Subculturep. 17
The London/UK Scenep. 19
Elements of the Subculturep. 21
Motivations and Identityp. 22
Fame and Hierarchyp. 23
Visibility, Placement and Stylep. 27
Illegality and the Graffiti Rulesp. 30
Conclusionp. 31
2 Copyright, Creativity and Commonsp. 32
Introductionp. 32
Justifications for Copyrightp. 32
Creativity and Commonsp. 39
Creativity as Process, Pleasure and Spacep. 39
Copyright, Culture and the Public Domainp. 43
Graffiti and the 'Bounded Commons'p. 49
Graffiti in the Physical and Intellectual Commonsp. 49
The Graffiti-Specific Commonsp. 52
Alternative Frameworksp. 56
Norms and Rules, Customs and Practicep. 56
Regulating Creativity Without Copyright Lawp. 58
Conclusionp. 61
3 Methodology: Reflections on Fieldworkp. 63
Introductionp. 63
Empirical Research on Graffitip. 64
Choice of Research Methodologyp. 66
Data Gatheringp. 67
Settingp. 68
Participantsp. 70
Interviewsp. 73
Supplementary Sourcesp. 77
Data Analysisp. 80
Conclusionp. 83
Panel II Form
4 Copyright-Subject Matterp. 87
Introductionp. 87
Qualificationp. 88
Graffiti Writing as a 'Work'p. 89
Graffiti Writing as an Artistic Workp. 91
Graffiti Writing as a Literary Workp. 95
Graffiti Writing as a Literary and an Artistic Workp. 97
Graffiti Writing as a 'Work' and a Trade Markp. 98
Fixation and Permanencep. 99
Fixation of Literary Worksp. 100
Materiality of Artistic Worksp. 100
Public Policy and Illegalityp. 102
Conclusionp. 108
5 Graffiti Rules-Write Letters, Choose Spotsp. 109
Introductionp. 109
Writing Lettersp. 110
Writing and Writersp. 110
Types of Writingp. 111
Ways of Writingp. 113
Copyright Beyond Copyright-Subject Matterp. 114
Appropriate Placementp. 118
Visibility and the Hierarchy of Placementp. 119
Public versus Private Property Placementp. 122
'Personal' Property and Respect/Moralsp. 124
'Personal' Property Commercial Property and Urban Aestheticsp. 125
Trains and Tracksides as Public/Private Propertyp. 127
Placement, Commons and Political Justificationsp. 128
Copyright Beyond Copyright-Morality and Spacep. 130
Placement, Permanence and (Im)materialityp. 133
Copyright Beyond Copyright-Materiality and Permanencep. 135
Conclusionp. 138
Panel III Copying
6 Copyright-Originality and Infringementp. 141
Introductionp. 141
Originalityp. 142
Graffiti Writing as an Original Literary Workp. 143
Graffiti Writing as an Original Artistic Workp. 147
Authorship, Joint Authorship and Ownershipp. 155
Infringementp. 157
Reproduction of Literary and Artistic Worksp. 157
Reproduction of Graffiti as an Original Literary Work-Namesp. 159
Reproduction of Graffiti as an Original Artistic Work-Stylep. 159
Intellectual Creation, Reproduction and the Adaptation of Graffiti Stylep. 166
Communication to the Public of Literary and Artistic Worksp. 168
Distribution of Artistic Worksp. 170
Defences to Infringementp. 170
Fair Dealing for Research or Private Studyp. 171
Fair Dealing for Reporting Current Eventsp. 173
Conclusionp. 173
7 Giaffiti Rules-Be Original, Don't Bitep. 175
Introductionp. 175
Style and Originalityp. 175
Novelty and Stylistic Heritagep. 179
Identifying Biting and Justifying Sanctionsp. 183
Style and Skill (Can Control)p. 187
Copyright Beyond Copyright-Originality and Copyingp. 189
Originality and the Namep. 194
Copyright Beyond Copyright-Marks Without Tradep. 198
Exceptions for Bitingp. 199
Blackbooksp. 200
Tags, Commons and Territoryp. 201
Shout outsp. 203
Copying Within Crewsp. 204
Copyright Beyond Copyright-Exceptions and the Commonsp. 205
Conclusionp. 207
8 Moral Rightsp. 211
Introductionp. 211
Preconditions for Moral Rightsp. 211
Public Exhibitionp. 212
Communication to the Public and Commercial Publicationp. 214
Attribution, False Attribution and Integrityp. 216
Mural Right of Attributionp. 218
Moral Right Against False Attributionp. 224
Moral Right of Integrityp. 225
Moral Rights and Communal Creativityp. 233
Conclusionp. 234
9 Graffiti Rules-Don't Go Overp. 235
Introductionp. 235
Norm Against Interferencep. 236
Style, Skill and Respectp. 238
Placement, Territory and Commonsp. 242
Copyright Beyond Copyright-Spatialised Moral Rightsp. 243
Sanctions and Subcultural Politicsp. 247
Going Over and Other Sanctionsp. 248
Going Over and Beefp. 251
Copyright Beyond Copyright-Damage and Damagesp. 253
Conclusionp. 253
Panel V Interactions
10 Graffiti Rules and Copyright Lawp. 257
Introductionp. 257
Copyright and Public Placementp. 258
Land, Chattels and Copyrightp. 258
Public Exhibitionp. 262
The Section 62 Exceptionp. 263
Graffiti Writers' Rules for Non-writersp. 265
Approval (or Tolerance) of Sharingp. 265
Disapproval of Commercial Copyingp. 270
Graffiti Rules for Copyrightp. 272
Revising the Public Placement Exceptionp. 275
Introducing 'Fair Use', Making Use of Quotationp. 277
Strengthening Moral Rightsp. 284
Conclusionp. 284
Conclusionp. 287
Convergence and Divergence: Justifying Copyright?p. 289
Space, Pleasure, Resistancep. 293
Creativity, Space and Pleasurep. 293
Graffiti Rules as Resistancep. 295
Where Next?p. 299
Indexp. 301