Culture  Get your hands off my graffiti

It’s pretty unlikely that the first thing you think of when you see a piece of graffiti is, “Who owns that?” But it’s not a ridiculous question. The notion of street art is inherently contradictory – art that is created using public space as a canvas is the outpouring of an artist’s creativity – and that artist may feel entitled to intellectual property rights for the work. But the public nature of such art also means that it is often conceived of as belonging, collectively, to the general population. Add to that claims by property owners that they should be granted rights to art that is on their buildings, and the situation becomes even more difficult to sort through. These are the questions that McGill Faculty of Law–based group Rethinking Intellectual Property Policy (RIPP) is determined to tackle through their latest event, Art in the Streets: Graffiti’s Challenge to Intellectual Property. The group is bringing in four experts on the subject – Sterling Downey, editor of Under Pressure magazine, Raymond Carrier, a municipal official, Roadsworth, the acclaimed Montreal graffiti artist, and Karen Crawley, law student – each of whom looks at street art from a different perspective. The discussion will be open to the public, so those of you eager to experience the discourse firsthand should definitely attend.