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Litigation update: Photographer Jingna Zhang loses plagiarism case against Luxembourg student artist who ripped off her work

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Litigation update: Photographer Jingna Zhang loses plagiarism case against Luxembourg student artist who ripped off her work

Singaporean photographer Jingna Zhang’s lawsuit against a Luxembourg-based art student Jeff Dieschburg accusing him of copying her work has been rejected by the district court in Luxembourg.

According to Luxembourg media outlet Delano, the court determined that Zhang's photograph did not meet the requirements to be covered by Luxembourg or European copyright law, asserting that “there was insufficient originality in the photo.”

Zhang’s lawyer Vincent Wellens, whom PitchMark previously interviewed for his views on the case, told Delano that the result seems “absurd” and “incomprehensible”, “given that in the past, copyright was recognized for advertisements for a hairdresser.”

In July, Zhang accused Dieschburg of painting a picture that was almost identical to a photo she shot in the past. Dieschburg denied the plagiarism allegation, but he didn’t deny taking inspiration from the photo.

Zhang wrote on Instagram that she was “devastated” by the ruling.

She wrote: “Completely unbelievable news today, to hear the court rule that my work does not deserve copyright protection from a plagiarist because my work doesn’t contain 'any element that would allow [it] to be considered an original work'. Seriously???”

She stressed that her photo was “ripped off, awarded, and offered for sale without any credit or license whatsoever.”

“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 the post.

Zhang’s lawyer Wellens has reaffirmed their intention to challenge the judgment.

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