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Webinar: Statutes and Street Art: Where Copyright Protection for Murals and Street Art Meet the Architectural Works Copyright Protection Act (AWCPA)

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This program offers 1 participatory MCLE credit. You must register in advance to participate. 

Street artists seeking copyright protection for their murals face many hurdles. One increasingly important one is 17 USC 120(a), part of 1990 legislation extending copyright protection to architectural works for the first time. Section 120(a) limits the new copyright protections for architecture, providing “the copyright in an architectural work … does not include the right to prevent the making, distributing, or public display of … photographs … of the work, if the building in which the work is embodied is located in or ordinarily visible from a public place.” The statute has been interpreted as establishing a simple public right to photograph publicly visible buildings. In this webinar, we will ask whether the statute allows corporate advertisers to freely use photographs of street art murals in their advertising, as recently argued by both Mercedes Benz and General Motors in cases in California and Michigan. The answer requires an understanding of the entire 1990 Architectural Works Copyright Protection Act, and the confusing contours of its photography exemption.

Moderators: Jonathan Lurie and John R. Wierzbicki

David Erikson is an intellectual property litigator, practicing in Los Angeles. After beginning his career as a commercial litigator at Bryan Cave LLP, he established an IP boutique in 2004. Over the past five years, Erikson (with co-counsel Jeff Gluck) has initiated most of the high-profile street art copyright infringement actions in the news, including cases against General Motors, H&M, Roberto Cavalli, Mercedes Benz, Moschino and Walmart. He represented the plaintiff in Falkner v. General Motors, which for now stands as the only judicial application of Section 120(a) to mural copyright infringement cases. He is currently litigating Mercedes v. Lewis, a case which could eventually answer some of the toughest questions about the statute.

Erikson also helps artists and designers protect their work and brands.

We are committed to accessibility! Virtual events are equipped with closed captioning. To request an in-person accommodation, send us a note at or contact us at 916-516-1760 for assistance.


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