Artist Wins Copyright Case Brought By Louis Vuitton

05/06/2011 11:26 AM |

Detail of the offending detail in Nadia Plesners painting Darfurnica.

  • Detail of the offending detail in Nadia Plesner’s painting “Darfurnica.”

What a year for artists and copyright laws: Jeff Koons, Richard Prince, and now Nadia Plesner. Who? Nadia Plesner, the Danish artist who was taken to court for copyright infringement by luxury, artist-employing brand Louis Vuitton for the image of an emaciated child holding one of their distinctive patterned handbags in her painting “Darfurnica” (pictured).

On Wednesday Eyeteeth reported that a European court (contradicting their recent anti-art stance) had ruled in favor of Plesner in a lawsuit brought by the luxury brand over her use of their Audra handbag in the “Guernica“-referencing, Darfur awareness-raising painting. Louis Vuitton sought a penalty of €5,000 for every day that the image appeared on Plesner’s website, which, as of right now, amounted to €485,000 (they began tallying her fee in late January). The brand also wanted the court to prevent Plesner from ever displaying the work online, or in the European Union (as well as another of her works that was the subject of a 2008 case).

Instead, the court in The Hague sided with Plesner stating, via Google Translate (of this article), that:

the importance of Plesner (freedom of expression through her work) outweighs the importance of Vuitton (protection of property). Using Plesner of the design is considered functional by the court and proportionate.

Not only that, Louis Vuitton has to pay Plesner’s legal fees!

In a letter to Eyeteeth she wrote of the win:

It has been a hard and intensive time, and I am pleased that it is over. The good thing about the legal case is, that Darfurnica got much more attention, and therefore the situation in Darfur got more attention. I hope that my painting has inspired some some debate about media and priorities.
Today is a great day for art. If I had lost this, I believe it would have caused many artists to censor their own work to avoid legal trouble. Now we have won back our freedom to make reference to the modern society we live in.