If you're a fan of street art and/or a Miami resident, you are no doubt familiar with AholSNiffsGlue's work.
And if you're a greedy apparel company named American Eagle Outfitters, you're also familiar with his work, too. According to the Miami New Times:
The company, which earned more than $3 billion last year, boasts 1,000-plus stores around the world, and ships to customers in 81 countries, began using Ahol's work on its webpage, social media sites, billboards, and in-store displays as part of a sweeping international blitz to shape its brand identity and sell its product.
The problem, according to a lawsuit filed by Ahol, is that American Eagle never sought the artist's authorization or compensated him for plastering his work on its ads.
AholSniffsGlue, whose real name is David Anasagasti, sued American Eagle for unlawful infringement of his intellectual property. Good for him. The above image is not only unlawful but as the Miami New Times points out, it seems to suggest the douchebag model painted it. Hence the spray can.
The area of Miami called Wynwood, is an outdoor art gallery of sorts, the popularity of which attracts people from all over the world to view the murals. Ahol is one of those artists on display. And this display has attracted enthusiasts form around the world who have paid significant money for his work. "Paid," being the operative word. At the very least, even people who don't end up owning an original seek permission to photograph it.
Sorry, I meant to say "some people." From Miami New Times:
For the most part, these photographers ask permission beforehand and credit the creators of the murals, as well as pay them a licensing fee.
But that's not always the case, as reflected by Ahol's suit, which alleges that representatives of the retailer set up shop in Miami's artsy district with a production crew of creative types and models to organize a campaign intended to appeal to the young adult audience the company targets -- but without crediting or compensating the artist.
But WAIT. it gets better. Not only did American Apparel not pay Ahol for his work, they went as far as to recreate it using other artists for a store opening in Colombia. How nice! What was the quote everyone loves to say? Ah yes-- "Good artists copy. Great artists steal." I guess this means American Eagle are Picassos in that regard.
By the way, this isn't the first time American Eagle have shown their true colors on piracy and copyright infringement. If you remember last year, the indie band Ghost Beach ended up getting more than the free publicity they bargained for when TBWA and American Eagle created a billboard in Times Square that was meant to be 'thought provoking,' but backfired.
*Hat tip to JK for this story.
Just to preempt any derails, anyone who wants to jump in here might want to read Does copyright law protect graffiti(street art)? before chiming in. Short answer is: YES.
It would appear that wannabeing never goes out of style, or at least selling products based on it anyhow.