Mural Artist Sues Sara Bareilles and Coach for Copyright Infringement

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Sara Bareilles in front of Maya Hayuk's Chem Trails NYC mural.
Photo: Music Marketing Tools.

The artist Maya Hayuk is suing pop star Sara Bareilles, her record labels Epic Records and Sony Music, the luxury brand Coach, and others for using her Lower East Side mural Chem Trails NYC (2014) as the backdrop for advertisements and promotional materials without her permission, Page Six and the New York Daily News report.

The copyright infringement lawsuit, filed in a Manhattan Federal Court on August 20, alleges that Bareille used photos and video shot in front of Hayuk’s colorful, geometric mural to promote her recent “Little Black Dress” concert tour and album The Blessed Unrest without the artist’s knowledge or permission. Similarly, Coach used the vibrant public artwork as a backdrop for images used to sell expensive clothes and bags online without Hayuk’s permission. She is seeking $150,000 each from Coach and Bareilles.

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Maya Hayuk, Chem Trails NYC (2014).
Photo: Benjamin Sutton.

“Maya is an extremely prolific and hard-working artist,” Aaron Silverstein, Hayuk’s attorney, told the Post. “This is how she pays for rent and feeds herself, so when there’s a misappropriation of her work, it’s a big deal for her.” Speaking to the Daily News, he added: “When her work gets appropriated without her permission, it’s painful.”

Indeed, this isn’t the first time Hayuk has gone to court over the unauthorized use of one of her murals as a backdrop. In 2012 she sued Sony Music and RCA Records when her Brooklyn mural Sunshine (2010) turned up in the backdrop of music videos for songs by Rye Rye and Elle Varner.

Hayuk painted her Chem Trails mural on the popular Bowery Mural Wall space at the corner of Houston Street and Bowery in Manhattan in February 2014. It remained on view until earlier this summer, and was a very popular backdrop for tourists and selfie-snapping locals alike—and, apparently, major record labels and purveyors of luxury accessories.


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