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Painting: infringement of photo?

April 2018. Despite the fact that his painting is based on an existing work by photographer Jonas Lemberg, Swedish artist Markus Andersson isn’t guilty of copyright infringement, Sweden’s Supreme Court has ruled.

Olof Palme

The man shown on Lemberg’s photo is Christer Pettersson, who was once tried for the 1986 assassination of the country’s prime minister Olof Palme, and ultimately acquitted. Lemberg took the photo in 2005. Andersson later used it as the basis for one of a series of paintings depicting individuals who he felt had been made scapegoats (a goat is visible in the background to the painting).

Work as a whole

When Andersson displayed the image in poster form, Lemberg filed a lawsuit against him. After a long and circuitous route, the case eventually ended up in the Supreme Court, which ruled that a conclusion could only be reached by looking at the work as a whole. The colours, rugged landscape, goat and the symbolic message expressed by the painting all constitute an entirely new work which does not infringe the copyright of Lemberg’s photograph, the Court concluded (source: Nedim Malovic, IPKat).