Street Artist Triumphs Over Urban Outfitters in Copyright Case

by Hrag Vartanian on September 20, 2011

The Urban Outfitter's tee and Cali Killa's image. (via &

We posted about Cali Killa’s copyright issue with Urban Outfitters last January, and how the corporation has blatantly stolen from the street artist to sell tshirts. Now, Melrose and Fairfax is reporting that Cali Killa had copyrighted his image and was able win his case. The blog goes on to suggest:

It might be a good idea for all street artists to look into copywriting their images to protect against something like this happening.

They add:

On the other hand, a lot of people feel that images which are placed illegally on the streets should not be given protection.

Count me in the latter camp.

The artist has reissued his own indie version of the tees in his own online store. The limited edition tshirts (100 copies) will go on sale at midnight on September 30. They will cost $25.00 each.

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  • Brian Sherwin

    The irony being that when Shepard Fairey does something like what Urban Outfitters did… people rush to his support be it in the form of free culture rhetoric or creative freedom spin. Apparently it is OK for an artist to slap another artists work on a shirt… but Heaven forbid a corporation do the same — o wait… Fairey’s company is technically a corporation. ;P Irony… hypocrisy…. take your pick.

  • Fairey puts his own work on his own T-shirts that he sells. Am I mistaken?

  • matthew langley

    Interesting article – glad to see an artist win for once.

    Hrag (hi, how have you been) I don’t understand why you feel artists should not be able to control the copyright on works they post (I’m assuming in a gallery is ok – I could be wrong there as well though). We are in an age where content and creation are being spliced into so many different channels and publishers (large and small) are optimizing as much as they can for maximum benefit for themselves rather than the artist.

    It almost seems that we are setting a table for abuse rather than protection. Frankly I’m wandering a bit here mostly because your line – has just that one line. I’d love to have you unpack that train of thought if you wouldn’t mind.


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