Have any graffiti artists, in the process of asserting their copyright claim in court over illegally placed works of art, and in doing to by proving themselves to the the creator of the works, been subsequently found financially liable for the cost of removing or painting over their own work? (either as part of the proceedings, or in a later counter-suit?)

And/or have are there cases where revenue from the copyright infringer's use of the art was funneled towards cleanup costs instead of the artist?

2 Answers 2


Graffiti artists are routinely found financially liable for their work, but assertions of copyright infringement by graffiti artists are vanishingly rare, so I don't know if that has ever happened in that context.

In many jurisdictions, filing a lawsuit against someone waives any statute of limitations defense you may have against counterclaims filed by the person you are suing in any related matter. So, if that rule applies, a counterclaim for financial loss from graffiti could be brought in a copyright infringement lawsuit, even though the statute of limitations on the damages claim would otherwise have run. But, I don't know if such a rule applies to copyright infringement claims filed in federal court.


One of the most famous graffiti artists to have been involved in legal disputes over copyright is Banksy. The British artist, who maintains his anonymity, has had to navigate the tricky balance between asserting his rights over his works while avoiding potential legal consequences for creating them. Banksy's works are often created on buildings without the owner's permission, which technically makes them acts of vandalism under UK law. However, to the best of my knowledge, Banksy has not been held financially liable for the cost of removing or painting over his works.

The issue of an artist being held liable for cleanup costs in a copyright dispute has not been definitively addressed by the courts, at least not in any high-profile cases that I'm aware of. This is likely because most graffiti artists, like Banksy, maintain their anonymity precisely to avoid such consequences.

As for the question of revenue from the infringing use of the art being used to cover cleanup costs, this would likely depend on the specific circumstances of the case and the discretion of the court. In general, copyright law would entitle the artist to any profits derived from the unauthorized use of their work. However, a court might potentially offset these profits against any damage caused by the creation of the work, such as cleanup costs.

https://www.wipo.int/wipo_magazine/en/2019/03/article_0005.html https://scholarship.law.wm.edu/wmlr/vol63/iss2/6/

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    The answer shows a pro graffiti bias IMHO., which is a pro crime bias, since graffiti is illegal. "Graffiti artist" has regrettably become the standard term. I'd prefer "graffiti pseudoartist" or "graffiti vandal". But you go too far with "British artist", "his works", "which technically makes them acts of vandalism under UK law" ("which makes them acts of vandalism", would be what a law-abiding citizen would say). Just my two cents. Commented Aug 5, 2023 at 16:46

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