Street Artist Sues American Eagle For Copyright Infringement

Ahol Sniffs Glue's original mural in Miami. Photo: Flickr/Dogslobber
Ahol Sniffs Glue's original mural in Miami. Photo: Flickr/Dogslobber

Ahol Sniffs Glue’s original mural in Miami.
Photo: Flickr/Dogslobber.

Miami street artist Ahol Sniffs Glue (real name David Anasagasti) filed suit last week against popular teen clothier American Eagle Outfitters (AEO) for copyright infringement. The company appropriated Ahol’s signature “lazy eyeball” motif for international advertising campaigns, store displays, social media pages, and a billboard in New York City, all without consulting or compensating the artist.

In ads, they pose a clean-cut male model against a wall painted by Ahol in Miami’s Winwood Arts District with a spray can in hand, implying that he is the creator of the mural. The artist himself is described as a “bearded, heavily-tattooed Cuban-American.” According to the Huffington Post, the store even went as far as to hire artists to produce a sloppy rendition of the well-known motif for display at a store opening in California, plastering a large American Eagle eagle in the middle of it.

By continually splashing their label across the artist’s signature work, AEO has “essentially incorporated Mr. Anasagasti’s artwork into [their] own brand identity,” the lawsuit alleges. The artist’s lawyer also claims he contacted the company about their use of the work in May, but that the brand has continued to produce eyeball imagery as recently as the middle of July. The suit seeks not only monetary compensation for the works that have been used, but also a permanent injunction that would bar the retailer from using photos or likenesses of the work.

Vice, after reaching out to the retailer for comment and receiving none, asked an anonymous lawyer to weigh in on whether or not the artist has a shot at beating the corporation in court. “Even if an original piece of art appears in public, copyright law still grants it protection. Copyright law grants a limited monopoly to the creators of art so long as the work is original and so long as it’s fixed in a tangible medium (i.e., paint on a wall). AholSniffsGlue’s work rises to the level of copyright protection,” they said.

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