Court Rules in Favor of Photographer Who Accused Painter of ‘Ripping Off’ Her Work

Jeff Dieschburg’s painting, left. Jinga Zhang’s photo, right.

A court in Luxembourg has ruled in favor of U.S. photographer Jingna Zhang who accused painter Jeff Dieschburg of making an exact copy of her photograph. The ruling overturns a previous decision in 2022 that favored Dieschburg.

The court has ordered Dieschburg not to exhibit the painting he calls Turandot else he will face a penalty of $1,080 (€1,000) per day up to a maximum fine of $108,000 (€100,000). RTL reports that legal costs total $1,620 (€1,500).

Fine art painter Jeff Dieschburg, who is from Luxembourg, was accused of copying one of Zhang’s photos after he won the 11th Biennale of Contemporary Art award which also came with a €1,500 prize.

Zhang shot the original photo for Harper’s Bazaar Vietnam in 2017. The side-by-side comparison of the two images is striking, and Dieschburg admits that as a figurative painter, he needs reference materials.

The photographer took to X (formerly Twitter) to celebrate the verdict.

“Using a different medium was irrelevant. My work being ‘available online’ was irrelevant. Consent was necessary,” she writes.

“This win means a lot — not just for me but also for artists and photographers everywhere.”

“It’s a reminder that copyright protects individuals from those that try to profit off our work without consent,” she continues.

“It reaffirms that our work being online doesn’t mean we give up our rights.”

Zhang says that she has been harassed for fighting the case: receiving misogynistic and racist abuse.

“My home address was doxxed, I was told they’d put me in jail, that I’d kill myself soon. I lost out on work because [sic] of how it ate away at me. But I didn’t want to give up.”

Zhang went on to thank Luxembourg and the country’s judicial system for “upholding copyright protection for an individual, especially in time of AI where our rights seem to be quickly eroding.”

Indeed PetaPixel reported last week that Zhang has launched a lawsuit against Google along with three other artists who accuse the search giant of using their copyrighted work in the training of its AI image generator model Imagen.