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May 14, 2012 12:54 PM   Subscribe

Is it legal to advertise by taping posters to telephone poles, bus shelters, boarded up storefronts, etc? Do outfits like Poster Giant have some kind of special exception?

I see it a lot, and it seems like an effective, low-budget way of spreading the word about things (something the tiny nonprofit I run, which does a lot of public-event type programming, could benefit from!)

However, this seems like it's likely illegal (even if widely practiced) — and especially if I were postering on behalf of my organization, I wouldn't want that!

I am in Chicago, if anyone has any local knowledge.
posted by bubukaba to Law & Government (7 answers total)
 
If you put it on private property, it's vandalism.

On public property, it's usually against the law.
posted by empath at 12:56 PM on May 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Utilities poles are owned by the utility, and it's dangerous for linemen and line-women to climb poles with staples and paper all over them.

So no, you can't legally put fliers on utility poles.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 12:59 PM on May 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


In Seattle, it's legal. From Seattle's rules on posters:
Posters can be placed on utility poles, street light poles, and on traffic sign posts...

(Although in Seattle, the utility poles are owned by the city as it has a city-owned electric utility.)
posted by ShooBoo at 1:12 PM on May 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


I am in Chicago, if anyone has any local knowledge.

I don't. But in New England, I'm aware of neighboring jurisdictions that have different laws about this, so if I were you I'd definitely look for local sources of information.
posted by cribcage at 1:17 PM on May 14, 2012


I can't find it now, but I recall reading an article about a man in Chicago who drives his pickup around in the early morning and takes these types of signs down - entirely volunteer work. From what I recall from the article, the signs on utility poles etc. are definitely not legal, there's just no enforcement (unless someone catches you putting up such a sign, I suppose.)
posted by Wulfhere at 1:45 PM on May 14, 2012


Chicago Municipal Code: 10-8-320 Posting bills.
No person shall distribute or cause others to distribute, as defined in Section 10-8-325, commercial advertising material by means of posting, sticking, stamping, tacking, painting or otherwise fixing any sign, notice, placard, bill, card, poster, advertisement or other device calculated to attract the attention of the public, to or upon any sidewalk, crosswalk, curb or curbstone, flagstone or any other portion or part of any public way, lamppost, electric light, traffic light, telegraph, telephone or trolley line pole, hydrant, shade tree or tree-box, or upon the piers, columns, trusses, girders, railings, gates or parts of any public bridge or viaduct, or upon any pole box or fixture of the police and fire communications system, except such as may be required by the laws of the state and the ordinances of the city, or on any bus shelter, except that the city may allow the posting of decorative banners in accordance with Section 10-8-340 below.
Additionally, 10-8-290 says you can't drop flyers from aircraft.

There are bulletin boards at many coffee houses and shops, though, and a lot of businesses will let you put up a poster in their window, especially if it's for a non-profit.
posted by hydrophonic at 2:06 PM on May 14, 2012 [4 favorites]


In my hometown, it is illegal. Back in high school when I was part of a collective putting on punk shows there was a crotchety old retired man who made it his life's mission to tear fliers off utility poles. We fliered at least every other day because of him. Thanks to interactions with him, I learned that this is illegal in the state of CA.
posted by mollymayhem at 2:15 PM on May 14, 2012


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