collection of street art photos

Pascale Chapdelaine, “Graffiti, Street Art, Walls, and the Public in Canadian Copyright Law”, in Enrico Bonadio, ed., The Cambridge Handbook of Copyright in Street Art and Graffiti (Cambridge University Press, 2019). 

This book chapter offers a novel contribution to the copyright law literature by using Graffiti and street art as a case study to test the claim that Canada’s copyright law is apt to balance conflicting interests among competing claimants. Here the graffiti or street artist, the owner of the wall or other structure on which the graffiti resides, and the public accessing this artistic work. In doing so, the book chapter provides a detailed analysis of an under- explored area of Canadian law, i.e. the copyright protection of illegal graffiti, moral rights thereto, the rights of property owners of the tangible copy of the graffiti, as well as of the significance of graffiti and street art as public acts and at what this may signify to the entitlements of passers-by and the public to such artistic works.


“Graffiti, Street Art and the Purpose of Copyright Law”  is an ongoing research project where Dr Chapdelaine applies the theoretical justifications of copyright (utilitarian incentive-based theories, personality and right-based theories) to (illegal) graffiti and street art (drawing from anthropological and ethnographic studies on graffiti) and at how dissonant or congruent such copyright theories are toward warranting the protection of graffiti and street art. The article further explores the neutral treatment of copyright law towards illegal works, and ventures hypotheses to explain this treatment based on the implicit possible value of acts of transgression in intellectual property regimes of protection. 


Raffaella Rullo (Windsor Law Dual JD, 2018) provided research assistance on this project.