Luxembourg court rules in favor of photographer who claimed artist plagiarized her work


A Luxembourg court has ruled that Jeff Dieschburg, the artist accused of copying Singaporean photographer Jingna Zhang’s work, committed plagiarism.

Key points:

  • Zhang shared her victory in an Instagram post, noting that the court ruled Dieschburg had infringed upon her copyright for using her photograph without consent.

  • The decision comes after Zhang filed to appeal a 2022 ruling that ruled in favor of Dieschburg.

  • Zhang's original photograph was from a Harper’s Bazaar Vietnam cover shoot in 2017. Despite minor differences, a side-by-side comparison of the photo and the painting reveals striking similarities.

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  • In June 2022, Zhang raised concerns on social media about Dieschburg copying her photograph and winning a cash prize along with showcasing the painting at a prestigious international exhibition. Fellow artists and supporters rallied behind Zhang, condemning the plagiarism. Other creators revealed similar experiences with Dieschbourg.

  • Since Zhang's accusations, Dieschburg has faced significant backlash, leading him to hire a lawyer. Zhang has also hired legal representation, stressing the importance of respecting copyright.

  • In December 2022, a Luxembourg district court ruled in favor of Dieschburg based on the argument that “the model’s pose in my photo is not unique.'' However, Zhang denounced the ruling as absurd and filed an appeal.

The details:

  • “This win means a lot—not just for me but also for artists & photographers everywhere,” Zhang wrote in an Instagram post on Friday. “It’s a reminder that copyright protects individuals from those that try to profit off our work without consent. It reaffirms that our work being online doesn’t mean we give up our rights.”

  • Zhang emphasizes the importance of consent in using creative work, regardless of the medium or its online availability, saying, “So the next time you see someone do this to an artist and claim that: ‘using a different medium is transformative and not copyright infringement’ or ‘this was found on the internet so it's free to use!’ Show them my case. Because they are wrong.”

  • She reflected on enduring two years of harassment during her legal battle, such as instances of her home address being doxxed and receiving threats of self-harm. But Zhang remained resolute in her fight against injustice, advocating for standing up to bullies who exploit power imbalances.

  • “It’s hard to find the right words after 2 years of suppressing what I can say or post. And I’m still processing the fact that I can finally start to have my life back now,” Zhang concluded. “I hope bit by bit, I can return to how much I used to create and share. Thank you.”

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