Movie poster infringement?

Two posters look very much alike. But is it plagiarism? ‘No’, says copyright expert Jan Vegchel.

The case is questions concerns two posters. One poster is from the movie Le Mépris (1963), starring Brigitte Bardot and directed by Jean-Luc Godard, and the other one is from an International Film Festival “Film by the Sea”.

Bob Pingen, the photographer of the image on the poster of “Film by the Sea” stated, at the announcement of the poster, that he had been inspired by the work of director Jean-Luc Godard. The film on which Pingen based his photo was directed by Godard.

Van Vegchel claims, after studying both pictures, that Pingen has a strong case, if it would come to a court action.. “All in all, it’s another picture,” he says.

Although, he agrees that the two photos appear to be very similar at first sight, this is not mean plagiarism. “I see some obvious differences, so the colour is different. In one photo, the wall is grey and in the other photo it is white. In addition, the man in one picture wears a shirt and looks at the wall while the man on the other picture has a shirt and looks at the photographer. Also, the hair colour of the woman is different in both pictures.”

Van Vegchel continues to say that the style of the photo is not copyrighted. He gives the  example of the famous photo of The Beatles photographed for a record cover on a zebra crossing on Abbey Road. “This photo has also been copied countless times, among other things by the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and nothing has been done.”

It remains to be seen, if this will come to a law suit or not. An then it is up to a court to decide whether this constitutes copyright infringement or is considered a sufficiently different photograph.

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Erwin Hauër

“Hope is not a strategy.”



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