Publication: Graffiti – Legal Copyright or Illegal Vandalism?

The LAW FIRM of DAYREL SEWELL, PLLC is pleased to announce that Mr. Dayrel S. Sewell, Esq. penned an article entitled, “Graffiti: Legal or Illegal?” that is now published in the Brooklyn Bar Association’s Fall 2020 Journal.  The article explores the legal distinction between permanent graffiti and art, and the legal interpretation of the Visual Artists Rights Act as applied to the 5Pointz case.


This publication represents the continuation of our firm’s commitment to providing value to the greater NYC community and service excellence to our clients.


Established in 1872, the Brooklyn Bar Association’s primary purpose is to promote professional competence among attorneys and increased respect for the legal system.


In the rapidly changing world of Intellectual Property Law, street art protection is less commonly discussed than that of other innovative creations. Street art is somewhat ambiguous in its meaning. It is common to associate street art with the graffiti spray-painted tags on a building or subway. However, actual street art is something created with more depth. Legally, the distinction between permanent graffiti and art is permission. Street art becomes vandalism when that permission to publicly paint is not granted.i Because of the complexity of public art, the amount of protection afforded to street art is unclear. Graffiti law is not yet a legal practice; however, graffiti-related disputes have been stirring across the country.ii Given the recent racial inequality protests around the country regarding the Black Lives Matter movement, the issue only grows in scope and importance with the amount of street art replete across the country.iii

Graffiti legal copyright or illegal | Law Firm of Dayrel Sewell
Brooklyn Bar Association