DETROIT -- Mercedes-Benz USA has filed lawsuits against four artists, seeking a federal judge's validation that outdoor Detroit art in Instagram posts didn't infringe on their copyrights.
In January 2018, the automaker posted photos of the Mercedes G 500 to its Instagram account, featuring murals and graffiti by street artists in the background, according to court documents. Six photos were shot in Detroit, including some in the Eastern Market, where artists have produced more than 100 murals through a program called Murals in the Market.
The lawsuits, filed Friday and first reported by The Detroit News, claim that artists Daniel Bombardier, James Lewis, Jeff Soto and Maxx Gramajo threatened copyright infringement lawsuits against the company last month.
Mercedes removed the post from Instagram, the suit says, "as a courtesy."
Jeff Gluck, an attorney for the four artists, told Automotive News, a sister publication of Automotive News Europe, that the lawsuits "dangerously move the needle toward eroding artists' rights and consequently could strip away any protection for so many amazing and important works."
Mercedes' spokeswoman Donna Boland told Automotive News Tuesday that the lawsuits were filed to get a resolution of these "baseless threats."
Additionally, Daimler, parent company of Mercedes, alleged that proper permits were obtained from the city and copyright laws were followed when using the photographs, she said.