Street Art

Jeff Gluck Has The Artist's Back

June 12, 2017

It has felt like a trend for quite some time, and it always felt like the rich and powerful were able to just ... win. As social media has dominated the way we communicate, it also seems to be the way that many major creative agencies and fashion designers have researched and found inspiration for their own purposes. Whether an honest mistake or a deliberate misuse of imagery, we are in an era where it seems more and more graffiti and street artists are seeing their work misappropriated and stolen for commercial purposes. Whether Jermey Scott stealing the work of RIME, or Cavalli using REVOK's patterns, McDonald's using NYC graffiti as wallpaper, or even a recent case of Cleon Peterson's work being taken for a pattern by Vassilly, Juxtapoz has seen so many cases come to the forefront of social media that we wanted to find out what an artist can do to protect themselves. We reached out to Jeff Gluck, whose Gluck Law Firm has been fighting back and protecting artists as their legal voice in cases where companies are unlawfully using artwork they do not own. But what we really wanted to know is; what are your rights as an artist? What steps can you take when you see your work misappropriated? What are the smart, legally-tactful ways to challenge for infringement? And mainly, if you are feeling unsure, here is someone who will listen and give you advice.

Juxtapoz: As we talked about on the phone, explain to me a little of the things that you look out for with your clients? Just off the top, what sort of things in the year 2017 do artists need to be aware of when it comes to protecting their rights as a creative.
Jeff Gluck: I would say artists should be more proactive when it comes to registering their copyrights, especially for more important works or more visible (public) works. Having a registered copyright is extremely advantageous during an infringement dispute. It is easy and inexpensive to register a copyright, and the benefits are worthwhile. If you register a copyright before the work becomes infringed, you have the opportunity to recover automatic statutory damages as well as court costs and attorneys' fees. You can still have a very strong case if you don't have a registered copyright, but it places you in a better position against an infringer.

What is the most common mistake a company makes when they violate an artist's permission?
The most common mistake I see is that large companies do not have any system in place to vet things before they go out the door. Design departments or marketing agencies will pull inspiration from the web and far too often some of the inspiration - whether a mural or other artwork - will inadvertently end up on the final product without the artist's permission. The larger the company, the more often this seems to happen.

Would you say what you are doing, representing artists in these cases, is something that an artist would have had a hard time finding in past years? Was it hard for artists to find lawyers who would take on big corporations for this sort of stuff?
Yes. Almost all of my clients did not have any representation before me. It is hard to find a lawyer who understands the context and history of street art and graffiti and recognizes the importance of these artists. Many artists also feel like they cannot not afford to hire a lawyer and go after a big corporation. I try to level the playing field and make it as easy as possible for an artist to be empowered to take on anyone who rips off their work.

Can you give any examples of some cases you have worked on?
Some of my recent cases include representing RIME against Jeremy Scott and Moschino, REVOK against Roberto Cavalli, and DASH SNOW against McDonald's.

Can you give a few memorable moments that stick out to you as you have become more involved in artist's careers?
Every case has memorable moments. The best part of each case for me is helping artists enforce their rights and getting them rightfully compensated when their work is copied.

What sort of advice do you give a new client?
One of the most important things I tell new clients is to not go on social media and talk about your work being copied. Be smart. Be quiet. Contact a lawyer first.

As perhaps your practice grows defending artist's and their rights, what sort of things have you learned yourself about working in the creative field?
I love what I do. I hope I can do this for the rest of my life.  

For more information, contact Jeff Gluck at 
[email protected]
or visit gluckip.com