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Bieber ‘graffiti’ on SF sidewalks prompts city attorney to threaten legal action

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Illegal Justin Bieber graffiti at 1453 Haight St. ( Courtesy / San Francisco Public Works)
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The San Francisco city attorney threatened to sue Justin Bieber’s record label and distribution company on Monday for spray painting sidewalks with advertisements for the pop icon’s upcoming album.

The advertisements — which City Attorney Dennis Herrera called “unlawful ‘guerrilla marketing’ graffiti” in an email to Def Jam Records and Universal Music Group — popped up on city sidewalks in recent weeks.

Herrera is threatening the companies with legal action that could result in them paying The City up to $2,500 for each act of graffiti and other fees under local and state law, he said in an email to the companies, which was released on Monday.

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“For nearly a decade-and-a-half, my office has aggressively pursued virtually identical violations by corporate bad actors that have included IBM, NBC Universal, Turner Broadcasting and Zynga,” Herrera said in the email.

But unlike recent campaigns, where advertisements were chalked onto sidewalks, the Bieber advertisements are permanently spraypainted onto sidewalks and have lasted through several rainstorms, according to the city attorney’s office.

Herrera demanded that the identities of all parties involved in the “graffiti vandalism” be released, that the companies “detail the nature and extent of [the] graffiti marketing” and work with The City to “‘resolve the full scope of wrongdoing and avoid civil litigation,’” according to the City Attorney’s Office.

He noted in the email that The City has long fought to prevent graffiti vandalism “as to protect our city’s unique charms and avoid the myriad nuisances that accompany such visual blight,” spending about $20 million each year to remove it.

“Far more infuriating to the San Franciscans I hear from is commercially-sponsored graffiti,” he said.

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