Street Artist Revok and H&M Settle Dispute Over an Ad That Featured His Work Without Permission

Under the terms, the retailer agreed to fund a number of Detroit art institutions.

Graffiti artist Revok. Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images.

On Wednesday, American street artist Revok reached a settlement with Swedish fashion house H&M, ending a bitter copyright dispute over one of the retail giant’s ad campaigns. The artist claimed that company’s ad had featured his work without permission or payment.

As part of the settlement, the company agreed to fund a number of Detroit art institutions and charities, according to the Detroit Free Press. The organizations include City Year, Living Arts Detroit, MOCAD, Teen Council, and the Empowerment Plan.

The Los Angeles-based artist, whose given name is Jason Williams, apparently has strong ties to the Midwestern city. “Detroit is a special place to me, where I spent several years living and working, and a city that will always feel like home,” he told the Free Press

In March, the Washington Post reported that H&M sued Revok after the artist’s lawyer sent the company a cease-and-desist letter for an ad showing a model backflipping off a wall that featured his artwork. The letter prompted H&M to launch a countersuit alleging that the work was painted illegally and consequently could not be subject to copyright protection.

The countersuit provoked a swift backlash from the close-knit street art community, including from high-profile figures like street artist KAWS (who posted a drawing of a gravestone reading “RIP H&M”) and hip-hop producer and Revok collector Swizz Beatz (who posted a lengthy statement condemning the retailer).

The suit raised fears that the case could set a legal precedent denying artists protection for their intellectual property in the public domain. But after sustained pressure, H&M ultimately dropped the claim.  It is unclear how much money the company has agreed to contribute to the Detroit organizations.

See the artist’s Instagram post announcing the settlement below:


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