So who has copyright stakes in this scenario? If you guessed the Doors, the photographer, the building owner, and the mural painter, you're right. It's possible each of these people could stake some claim related to the photo.
When someone new came along and wanted to (i) re-do the mural, and (ii) add life-sized paintings of the members of the Doors, a legal quagmire ensued. The parties seem to have reached a resolution of sorts without resorting to the courts, but not all cases end so well. And the painting isn't complete yet, so don't be surprised if this one resurfaces.
Advising your own artist clients? Check out the following:
- Public Art by the Book
- Starting Your Career as an Artist
- The Visual Artist's Business and Legal Guide