‘Che’ dog photographer settles ‘bonkers’ rights battle

Chris Cheesman, writing for amateurphotographer, reports on the case of the London firm sued over images of a dog dressed as Che Guevara. This has to be the weirdest in a series of stories we have posted about infringements on Alberto Korda’s copyright on his iconic Che Guevara photograph.

A British photographer who sold images of a dog dressed as Che Guevara has agreed to pay out thousands of pounds after she was accused of breaching copyright laws.
The controversial Cuban revolutionary dog-lookalike was created by designer Kate Polyblank using Photoshop, based on a portrait of a friend’s pet taken by her husband Mark.
But Diana Lopez Korda sued Polyblank’s quirky gift company, Takkoda, claiming that commercial use of the ‘Revolution’ dog – complete with Che-style beret – infringed the image rights of her father Alberto, who captured the iconic picture of Guevara more than 50 years ago.
Takkoda, which is based in London, used the image to sell products such as mugs, T-shirts, badges and coasters.
Amateur Photographer can exclusively reveal that the company has agreed to settle out of court, according to a senior source close to the case.
The amount paid has not been disclosed but a similar lawsuit in 2000 is believed to have cost an advertising company $50,000.
Takkoda, which also designs greetings cards, decided to end the legal battle for ‘purely economic reasons’, fearing that protracted dealings with French lawyers would mean a much larger payout.
However, the designers insist they did not breach Alberto Korda’s copyright and refuse to admit liability.
‘They can no longer use that image for commercial purposes…. It’s a dog in fancy dress. It’s bonkers,’ said the source.
On its website, advertising ‘funky cards and gifts’, Takkoda states: ‘These are real pets, not real celebrities.’
The designers are understood to be furious, insisting that its photographers are fully aware of copyright legislation and did not do anything wrong.
‘It’s all been a very unpleasant, unnecessary and costly experience. It’s a lot of money,’ added the insider.
The legal fees alone are said to have exceeded €10,000, though this figure has not been confirmed.
Alberto Korda – whose real name was Alberto Díaz Gutiérrez – took his most famous picture, called ‘Guerrillero Heroico’, during a memorial service in Cuba on 5 March 1960.
He died in 2001, since when his family have been fiercely protective of the image, which has been used on merchandise worldwide and is one of the most famous photographs in history.
Korda famously never received any royalties for the image which only became a global symbol for revolt when Guevara was captured and killed by troops in Bolivia in 1967 and he was hailed a martyr in Cuba.
The photographer captured the Argentinian-born rebel on film using a Leica M2 camera and 90mm lens.
Korda closely monitored the way the picture was used commercially, especially outside Cuba.
Just months before he died, Korda won a landmark battle to assert his copyright over the image. He won an undisclosed sum in an out-of-court settlement after the image was used without his permission in a British advert for Smirnoff vodka.
Korda – who became Fidel Castro’s personal photographer – had been in dispute with London advertising agency Lowe Lintas and picture agency Rex Features which supplied the picture for the advert.
He had accused the ad company of trivialising the historical significance of the photo by overprinting it with a hammer and sickle motif, in which the sickle was depicted as a chilli pepper.
Korda felt that Che, who did not drink, should not be associated with vodka and that the advert was a slur on his name.
He donated the reported $50,000 payout to the Cuban healthcare system.
At the time of writing, the Che-themed products were still available to buy on the Takkoda website, though they are ‘not available in France’, where the Korda family lawyers are based.
AP understands that the items will be pulled from sale on the date that the legal settlement takes effect, expected to be within the next few weeks.

For the original report go to http://www.amateurphotographer.co.uk/news/Che_dog_photographer_settles_bonkers_rights_battle_update_news_306878.html

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