Please wait while the page is loading...


Singaporean photographer wins appeal in copyright case against artist from Luxembourg

29 May 2024

United States-based Singaporean photographer Zhang Jingna won her copyright case in Europe against Luxembourg artist Jeff Dieschburg. Zhang accused the figurative painter of copying her photograph of South Korean model Ji Hye Park for his painting.

The photograph features Park in a sideward pose in shoulder-baring attire. Her hair is styled in an updo with some cascading loose strands. There is also a flower on her side. Dieschburg’s painting is very similar – from his subject who closely resembles Park to the subject’s pose, attire, hairstyle and the presence of the flower.


Said painting won in a local competition in Strassen, Luxembourg in 2022, winning for Dieschburg a cash prize of1,500 euros (US$1,630). It was also for sale while on exhibit at the Contemporary Art Biennale in Strassen.

Marcus Liu, Associate Director, Amica Law, Singapore

Zhang filed a lawsuit against the artist for plagiarism at a district court in Luxembourg. In December 2022, the court ruled in Dieschburg’s favour, stating the photographer’s work was not sufficiently original. “This finding raised concerns among many observers globally, as it appeared to be a discordant application and interpretation of the concept of originality in copyright works,” revealed Marcus Liu, associate director at Amica Law in Singapore. “Although the development and enforcement of intellectual property laws, including copyright, can vary across jurisdictions, some fundamental ideas and principles remain consistent globally.”

Zhang appealed the lower court’s ruling, and this time, the court ruled in her favour. “It is essential to have decisions such as this one that unambiguously reaffirm the core principles of copyright law in the context of modern use,” said Liu. According to him, the decision addresses several common misconceptions concerning copyright law, transformative use and fair use. “This is particularly crucial in the information age, where the internet provides unprecedented accessibility to countless artistic and photographic works. In an era where copying is effortless and enforcement is challenging, dangerous misconceptions can proliferate among the collective consciousness,” he pointed out.

Liu added that the appeal’s result appears to align more closely with widely accepted principles of copyright law and is a welcome result.

Asked what message Zhang’s legal victory sends to copyright holders, Liu answered: “Her victory sends a strong and reassuring message to copyright holders and significantly restores confidence in the copyright regime, marking an essential triumph for copyright holders.”

As the full judgment had not yet been released, Liu said their team looks forward to reviewing the full judgment and the court’s exposition of the same.

- Espie Angelica A. de Leon

Law firms