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Art Or Vandalism? LA Sues To Curb Profits For Celebrity Taggers

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A graffiti attributed to secretive British artist Banksy depicting Charlie Brown figure starting a fire on the side of a burned-out building on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles.  (credit: GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images)

A graffiti attributed to secretive British artist Banksy depicting Charlie Brown figure starting a fire on the side of a burned-out building on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles. (credit: GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images)

LOS ANGELES (CBS/AP) — The city attorney says graffiti artists like Banksy and others should not be allowed to profit from their name being plastered across public property.

The Los Angeles Times reports the city attorney sued Cristian Gheorghiu and nine others last year. The suit seeks at least $1 million in penalties and a court order barring them from making money off artwork under their street names.

The 34-year-old Gheorghiu has an arrest record dating back to 1999. He was ordered to pay $28,000 in restitution after a 2007 felony conviction.

But Gheorghiu now sells legitimate artworks under his tag, “Smear.”

Some graffiti vandals, such as the British Banksy, have become artistic sensations for their “tagging”.

Peter Bibring, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California, says the suit violates artistic freedom.

(TM and © Copyright 2010 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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