The Swedish retailer, H&M are experiencing another PR fail as they are now been accused of copyright infringement by a graffiti artist for an illegitimate use of his artwork in their latest campaign.
A promotional imagery for the company’s sportwear line “New Routine” has a model pose in front of a street graffiti by Jason ‘Revok’ Williams, located at the William Sheridan Playground handball court in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
According to New reports, Williams has filed a cease and desist order against H&M for their “unauthorized use of his (Willaims) original artwork, and the manner in which it is using the work, is damaging and likely to cause consumers familiar with his work to believe there is a relationship between the parties.”
However, H&M is refuting his legal claims by stating Williams has no “copyright rights to assert” mainly because his artwork “is the product of criminal conduct.” The company argues that copyright protection is “a privilege under federal law,” which does not account for “illegally crated works.”
Furthermore, H&M had contacted the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation to find out whether they needed Williams’ permission in order to shoot in front of his artwork. They eventually reassured the retailer that “graffiti on the park handball wall was unauthorized and constituted vandalism and defacing of New York City property.”
Since this revelation, the graffiti artist has called for a boycott of the company, while also spearheading a debate as to whether or not street art should be protected by U.S. copyright laws.