Graffiti is interesting. While I technically think it's unethical to appropriate someone else's property by writing on their walls, I love the look of graffiti. But despite the often awesome results, it's understandable that many property owners want to maintain control over their property and don't appreciate having their building's walls continually covered with graffiti.
So when a business in Los Angeles got creative about protecting its building's walls and preempted graffiti artists by hiring local artists to cover the building in a mural, naturally the Los Angeles City Council slapped the owners with an order to remove "excess signage." As quoted by Reason:
"ORDER TO COMPLY," said the letter from the Building and Safety Department, which required the Antonios to remove "excessive signage" under threat of a $1,000 fine "and/or six (6) months imprisonment" for each of four alleged violations.
The Antonios called the office of Councilman Ed Reyes for help, but to little avail. One day the city sent out a work crew and just like that, the Antonios' $3,000 investment was gone, covered over with dull beige paint.
You know, of course, what happened next. Whitewashing that wall was like sending ants an invitation to a picnic. The taggers have been back almost daily, treating the wall like a fresh canvas.
Nice. Meanwhile, in New York, the upstart "Healthcare 2.0" clinic Hello Health tried a cool new advertising campaign that was very inline with their hipster brand reputation--they put signs like the ones shown below in some subway stations, presumably hoping that subway customers would fill in the speech bubbles with some interesting text. The outcome would be a dynamic billboard.
The results were fun and interesting, if not a little vulgar, until CBS Outdoor (who operates the billboards in the subway under a contract with the MTA) stepped in and killed the campaign, apparently because the billboards lend themselves to being vandalized. Ha!
So apparently it's not only illegal to violate someone's property rights by writing on their walls without permission, it's also illegal to exercise your own property rights by letting people write on your walls with your permission?!
Images from here and here.