H&M Milking Graff
A threat to artist's rights
This week, fashion retailer H&M filed a lawsuit in Federal Court in New York, allegedly asking the court to essentially rule that any and all unsanctioned or illegal artwork, such as street art and graffiti, should be devoid of copyright protection and can be used by any brand or corporation, without any payment or even needing the artist's permission. This action taken by H&M is a full out assault on artists' rights and we must raise our voices. This could render millions of murals and important pieces of artwork worldwide completely unprotected and available for corporate use, without any payment or permission needed whatsoever.
We must not allow this company to use our artwork and appropriate our culture to sell their products, for their own financial gains, while at the same time allow them to devalue and delegitimize our artwork, our culture, and everything we work for.
This all began when H&M was caught using REVOK's artwork in an advertising campaign without permission. When REVOK asked them to stop, they responded by threatening him with criminal charges and filed this lawsuit declaring that all artists of unsanctioned artwork should be unprotected and have no rights whatsoever.
There are many things wrong in the world today, and most of them are far more important than this issue. But if we don't take action now, many of us may find our careers and livelihoods in jeopardy, or one day see our artwork plastered all over an advertisement for some brand we hate and there would be nothing we could do about it.
Go on social media, get the message out to the global artist community, and let H&M know how you feel about them. They have made it clear how they feel about us.
Text: Roger Gastman