Did Luxembourg artist Jeff Dieschburg plagiarise photographer Jingna Zhang? For the Luxembourg district court, “there was insufficient originality in the photo,” said Vincent Wellens, the Singaporean photographer's lawyer.
Dieschburg's lawyer, Gaston Vogel, is pleased that the photographer who accused his client of plagiarism has “lost the case all the way”.
“This simply goes against the very principles of copyright law,” Jingna Zhang wrote in a Tweet following the ruling. “The worst part is that the ramifications not only affect my own work, but sets a dangerous precedent that extends to ALL photographers and artists whose portraits are now under threat of losing copyright protection,” she continued in a thread that has attracted over 29,600 likes and more than 5,000 retweets. Zhang says she is devastated and that she will appeal the decision.
A desire to appeal
The Luxembourg artist had exhibited a work at the Strassen contemporary art biennial at the end of May that strongly resembled the Singaporean professional’s photograph. The work for which he received an award of €1,500 was displayed at a selling price of €6,000. The photographer denounced this plagiarism on Instagram, demanding that the prize money be returned and that the work no longer be sold. Dieschburg had said he had just taken some inspiration from the painting. The two could not find a common ground.
As a result, Wellens took the case to court. The result seems “absurd” and “incomprehensible, given that in the past, copyright was recognised for advertisements for a hairdresser,” the lawyer said.
This story was first published in French on Paperjam. It has been translated and edited for Delano.