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Korean Air may sue ‘Pine Trees’ photographer

Publication Date : 28-01-2014

 

Korean Air, which is currently engaged in a legal battle with a celebrated photographer for copyright infringement, on Monday hinted it could take legal action against him for libel.

“We may seek to redeem our reputation by taking the necessary legal measures following the final court ruling,” Korean Air said in a statement.

The nation’s top airline carrier also stressed that it hasn’t done anything illegal, denying that its disputed 2011 TV commercial used a derivative image of “Pine Trees”, one of the best-known works of UK-based photographer Michael Kenna.

The photo depicts a set of pine tress on an island in Gangwon Province, and as Kenna noted, it has become “almost an icon” after the artist published it throughout the world.

Kenna has filed a 300 million won (US$276,900) lawsuit against Korean Air for copyright infringement.

But Korean Air refuted the claims, saying the two photos are totally different works. “We pay an annual 850 million won for copyrights. It is absurd that we used an amateur’s photo for commercial profits,” the statement said.

The photo it used in its commercial was taken by an amateur photographer who had participated in a contest held by the company. Currently, the company said it owns the copyrights.

However, Kenna, who also visited Seoul early this month to attend a court hearing, has expressed his willingness to continue the legal battle.

“It is most disturbing to me and profoundly disappointing,” he told The Korea Herald. “A company of the stature of Korean Airlines should set a standard for others and support originality.”

He also said, “It greatly surprises me that instead of using my original art work, somebody from Korean Airlines chose a derivative image.”

 

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