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After Millionaire's Lawsuit, Street Artists Exact Revenge In Soho

"Kind of Bloop" on Bowery and Spring Sts.
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"Kind of Bloop" on Bowery and Spring Sts. Photo Hyperallergenic

Here's a story about a cold, hard slab of street justice, served up on the streets of Soho. A group of artists got together to avenge Andy Baio, a techie who was sued for $32,000 by photographer Jay Maisel for failing to license Maisel's photo of Miles Davis on the cover of Kind of Blue.

To understand the situation fully, here's a little background: Baio had created a pixelated version of the photo for his own album cover—Kind of Bloop, an 8-bit tribute to Davis. Baio writes that "I went out of my way to make sure the entire project was above board, licensing all the cover songs from Miles Davis's publisher and giving the total profits from the Kickstarter fundraiser to the five musicians that participated." And he thought the cover art was already in the clear, believing his transformation of the image to qualify as fair use. Maisel, who happens to be a multi-millionaire who lives in 70+ room mansion on Bowery and Spring Sts, disagreed.

Baio eventually settled with Maisel to the tune of $32,500—not as an admission of guilt, but because "it was the least expensive option available." That prompted a crew of anonymous street artists to step in, exacting revenge on "sue-happy dick" Maisel by blowing up Baio's pixelated Davis and plastering him all over Maisel's Soho mansion. "I hope that every time Jay leaves the house, he sees these posters — and as he looks at them or tries to tear them down he thinks about how evil what he did was. Maybe he’ll realize that at some level all art borrows from other art, and suing another artist for fair use appropriation undermines all artists," they write. Street justice, indeed.

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