Photographer wins lawsuit against alleged painter who plagiarized her work

Two years ago, I wrote about Jeff Dieschburg, an artist in Luxembourg who took work by others, made trivial edits, and won awards with paintings of the results. Sued there by U.S. photographer Jingna Zhang, he won an early verdict in his favour, but has now lost on appeal.

The court found that Dieschburg's painting "Turandot" infringed upon Zhang's copyright. As a result, Dieschburg is prohibited from exhibiting the painting in the future, with a penalty of €1,000 per day up to a maximum of €100,000 for non-compliance. The legal costs total €1,500.

Zhang accused Dieschburg of having copied his oil painting "Turandot" one-to-one from her photos, alleging copyright infringement. Dieschburg had displayed the painting at the Biennale in Strassen and had even received prize money for it. The case garnered significant attention in the summer of 2022, both within and beyond the borders of the Grand Duchy.

Dieschburg had the audacity to lecture Zhang on copyright after she originally complained. This ultimately helped expose what he had done to wider attention—and now to getting his own, more expensive lecture on copyright from a judge.

I can't get over how he flips them all, something that would fool reverse image search five years ago but only made him look guilty once the context was collapsed. Another funny thing that struck me at the time is the accomplished-yet-bland technique of the paintings. It reminds me a lot of what comes out of Dafen Artist Village in China, which makes me suspect that what he does is edit things in Photoshop or some other app and send them off to be painted by others. I would genuinely admire that audacity.

Zhang was one of a number of artists to be so treated. There's a collection of his apparent swipes.