Mercedes-Benz is currently embroiled in an ongoing copyright battle against four Detroit-based artists after featuring their original artworks in an ad campaign surrounding its G 500 vehicle. The automotive giant filed a federal lawsuit back in April saying that it had the right to spotlight the works of street art in its advertisements. The Eastern Market murals in question were made by interdisciplinary artists Daniel Bombardier, Maxx Gramajo, Jeff Soto, and James “Dabls” Lewis who launched the massive MBad African Bead Museum in the state last year — an institute kickstarted by the artist’s passion for collecting African beads at local art fairs.
Gluck confirms that Mercedes Benz recently made a statement to a federal judge in Detroit saying that the “defendants are desperate.” In addition, the artists’ “motions to dismiss are baseless, and their letter is just one last-ditch and last-minute effort to convince the Court to dismiss MBUSA’s complaints without even reaching the merits of the case.”
The letter described in the aforesaid statement is from the artists who are claiming that Mercedes Benz used their works in their advertising without their permission. Not to mention, the vehicle manufacturer filed its initial lawsuits “secretly” while the artists were waiting to hear from the company. Gluck stresses that this copyright case is pivotal for artists who want to protect their outdoor artworks from being used by big companies.
Jeff Gluck expresses:
“The artists are desperate. They are desperate to defend their rights, protect their livelihoods, and prevent their artwork from being used by Mercedes against their will. These artists are a group of blue-collar hard-working people. One of them, James Dabls, the founder of the African Bead Museum, is a living legend in Detroit. Facing a lawsuit from a company as big as Mercedes would scare off many people. But James and the other artists are not backing down. They are fighting for their rights, and for the rights of the global artist community. If courts were to adopt Mercedes’ argument, all outdoor works of art could lose protection. The world is watching and this is not the first time Mercedes is on the wrong side of history.”
There will be a court hearing between Mercedes Benz USA and the artists on September 9 at 11:00 am EDT at the Theodore Levin U.S. Courthouse (Room 218). Stay tuned for updates on the lawsuit and let us know your thoughts below.
Theodore Levin United States Courthouse
231 W Lafayette Blvd
Detroit, MI 48226