6 months ago
Flashing lights, gritty architecture and vibrant street art gives the Big Apple a flavor that is recognizable around the world.
And McDonald’s apparently wanted that flavor associated with its fast food in Europe.
In an effort to capitalize on the recognizable New York cityscape, the company released a four-minute video in the Netherlands, highlighting some of the finest urban art. Except the Brooklyn-based artists behind the art are suing for copyright infringement and false endorsement.
The art was showcased in a video called, “McDonald’s Presents the Vibe of Bushwick, NY,” meant as an advertisement for the New York Bagel Supreme, a new burger in the Netherlands. A tour of street art in Bushwick, a Brooklyn neighborhood known for its extensive street galleries, is highlighted in the commercial.
The artists, including Don Rimx, Beau Stanton, Eelco Virus, NDA, Atomik and Himbad Sultan, say they were never asked if they wanted to be in the video, paid for their participation or even compensated with a Happy Meal. Now they are seeking a portion of the proceeds as well as any damages to their reputation.
A lawsuit has been filed through Kushnirsky Gerber PLLC, the New York-based firm representing the artists, but the bigger issue remains: while street art in out in the public, legally it does not fall in the public domain. As a result, street artists are often taken advantage of.
“The best-case scenario would be for companies like McDonald’s to ask permission in the first place,” Andrew Gerber, an attorney working for Kushnirsky Gerber PLLC, told Hyperallergic. “It’s up to the artists whether they want to allow corporations to use their artwork. Artists have the right to turn companies down.”
Watch the McDonald’s ad below.