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Pictures taken at "Greetings from Buffalo" mural earn several businesses greetings of a different kind

Posted at 6:37 PM, Apr 10, 2023

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — It's a celebrated mural that's been the focus of thousands of social media posts. "Greetings from Buffalo", a creation from local artist Casey Milbrand, is a picture perfect backdrop, but how you use that photo might earn you greetings of a different kind.

"Mr. Millbrand is a well known artist and is committed to protecting his intellectual property" attorney Stuart Shapiro tells 7 News.

And because of that Milbrand has been sending invoices demanding compensation from several local businesses and organizations for the commercial use of the "Greetings from Buffalo" mural.

"Mr. Milbrand has no problem with an individual standing in front of his mural and taking a picture for their personal use," says Shapiro, "When it comes to someone using his art work for commercial purposes that becomes a problem."

Casey Moscato, the owner of Buffalo Bike Tours and Rentals, is one of the business that received an invoice from Milbrand.

"We are called the City of Good Neighbors, maybe it's, in this case, more like the City of Litigious Neighbors," Moscato tells 7 News.

Moscato says he received an invoice for $5,000 from Milbrand for the use of pictures taken in front of the mural on the Buffalo Bike Tour website.

"I have a gallery of images that says here are the site that you will see on the tour. I included a photo of that, a photo that I took, actually of friends who were on the tour in the that background. I had no idea that the image was copyrighted."

"It's got a lot of twists and turns. Copyright law is a very complicated body of law," says Attorney Mickey Osterreicher who has worked in media law and copyright for years. "The whole idea behind copyright is you can say what can be done with your work, but also what can't be done with your work. That is the whole idea of copyright."

Osterreicher says the fact that the mural in question is public art also adds an extra level of complexity.

"Legally it basically says what you can and can't do. Ethically, says what you should and shouldn't. You decide," said Osterreicher.

As for Moscato, he says for now he's going to wait to pay the $5,000 invoice.

"At this point I don't plan on paying it," said Moscato. "If I do get a summons to report to Federal court I will seek legal advice. I have consulted with multiple lawyers on this matter and they've advised me that the case is without merit"

Meantime Milbrand and his attorney vow to press forward.

"We are taking this to the mats," said Shapiro.