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Mercedes hits back at street art infringement claims

Written by Laura Cannon- Solent University student on 02 April 2019

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On Friday 29th March 2019 Mercedes Benz USA filed a request at the US district court for the Eastern district of Michigan seeking a declaratory judgement that it did not infringe graffiti artists copyright during its marketing campaign for the new G 500 series truck.

This all began back in January 2018 when the German Carmaker took and posted photos on Instagram featuring the new truck in front of murals and graffiti by street artists in Detroit. Mercedes claim the background was partially blurred in their posts but decided to remove the Instagram posts following threats from the artists.

Despite this Mercedes claim that the artists have continued to make an aggressive shakedown and in March 2019 the artists threatened legal action. Mercedes have filed the law suits for a declaratory judgement of non-infringement and fair use.

Mercedes goes onto argue that each of the photos were taken at an oblique angle to draw the viewers attention immediately to the truck not the mural. The car company have stated that the promotional posts were targeting a completely different audience to those who would appreciate the artworks.

Mercedes is seeking an award of costs and fees in this case. It will be interesting to see the outcome of this case!

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