Copyright and street art research wins award

13 April 2017
Seira Shin-Clayton

An undergraduate honours student from the Auckland Law School has won the Loman Friedlander Award for her research paper entitled Copyright and Street Art.

Seira Shin-Clayton, who is in the final semester of her BA/LLB (Hons) degree at the University of Auckland, wrote the 8,500 word paper for her honours seminar under the supervision of Professor Rosemary Tobin.

Seira’s research considered the potential for the application of copyright law to works by street artists, such as Banksy.

The idea for her paper came from a case in New Zealand called Radford v Hallenstein Bros Ltd where Hallensteins took an image of the sculptures in Western Park in Ponsonby and used the image on T-shirts. It was one of the first cases where moral rights under the New Zealand Copyright Act were considered.

“Writing the paper was challenging as I had not taken a course on Intellectual Property,” says Seira. “However it was really enjoyable bringing my personal love of street art together with law which led to some interesting discoveries.”

“It is unclear as to whether street artworks would qualify under the Copyright Act. Further there are strong policy arguments on both sides of whether it should qualify. It is my view though that although copyright in street art has yet to be determined in New Zealand, there ought to be protection,” she says.

The Loman Friedlander Award was established in 1990 and rewards the best paper between 5,000 and 10,000 words on any subject falling within the area of intellectual property law.

Seira will be presented with the award, which comes with a $1,000 prize, on the 11th of May at the Auckland office of intellectual property firm Baldwins.