Ai Weiwei Wins $1.5 Million Danish Krone in Volkswagen Polo Lawsuit (UPDATE)

“They are not above the law.”

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Arts
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UPDATE: Ai Weiwei took to Instagram this Wednesday to announce that he has won the case against Scandinavian Motor Co. A / S. The automotive giant had featured the artist’s ‘Soleil Levant’ (2017) installation in is Volkswagen Polo ad without his permission back in 2017.

“This market exploitation of Ai Weiwei’s artwork was in clear contradiction with the considerations and thoughts that were behind the work and the detailed content of the work. The exploitation caused a certain risk of diluting Ai Weiwei’s artwork and had the character of a parasite on Ai Weiwei’s good name and reputation. The use, therefore, constituted improper exploitation of the artwork for marketing purposes,” as per the Danish court ruling.

The court issued a remuneration of 1.5 million USD for the motor company’s unauthorized usage of the artwork alongside a non-financial damage compensation of $250,000 DKK (approx. $37,577 USD). Moreover, the company will need to reproduce sections of its ad where the artwork is portrayed. The ad was printed in 216,500 copies of SMC’s magazine ‘VieW.’

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Judgment for the Chinese artist Ai Weiwei 17-07-2019 Scandinavian Motor Co. A / S must pay for unauthorized use of artwork in an advertisement Case number: BS-38220/2018 The case concerns Skandinavisk Motor Co. A / S 's use of Ai Weiwei's artwork "Soleil Levant" in an advertisement for a car. The artwork, which was exhibited at Kunsthal Charlottenborg's facade from June 20 to October 1, 2017, consisted of an installation of the art gallery's windows with 3,500 life jackets, collected from refugees who landed on Lesbos in 2015 and 2016. Ai Weiwei is a critic and artist, and his artwork in question focuses on the humanitarian refugee crisis SMC used the work as a background for a picture of a new car model. The picture was printed in a number by SMC's magazine "VieW". SMC acknowledged that by using the artwork they had violated Ai Weiwe's copyright, but disputed that his rights under the Marketing Act were also violated. Ai Weiwei had demanded 2 million DKK in remuneration, compensation and compensation for the violation. The Court held that SMC's use of the artwork constituted a violation of Section 3 (1) of the Marketing Act. 1, on good marketing practice. In particular, the Court emphasized that SMC's use of the image in a customer magazine and on Volkswagen's Danish website when launching a new car model was done for marketing purposes. This market exploitation of Ai Weiwei's artwork was in clear contradiction with the considerations and thoughts that were behind the work and the detailed content of the work. The exploitation caused a certain risk of diluting Ai Weiwei's artwork and had the character of a parasite on Ai Weiwei's good name and reputation. The use therefore constituted an improper exploitation of the artwork for marketing purposes. The court granted a remuneration for the unlawful application of 1.5 million. DKK and a compensation for non-financial damage of DKK 250,000. In determining the reasonable remuneration, the court emphasized in particular that SMC reproduced parts of the artwork in an advertisement for Volkswagen's Polo in the magazine in question, that the magazine was printed in 216,500 copies, of which 204,896 were

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ORIGINAL STORY (May 24, 2019): Ai Weiwei recently filed a lawsuit against Volkswagen and its Danish counterpart Skandinavisk after he said his artwork appeared in an advert for the German automaker without permission. The legal battle surrounds his Soleil Levant (2017), a sprawling installation that sees the Kunsthal Charlottenborg’s façade packed with approximately 3,500 life jackets that were all salvaged from refugees in the island of Lesbos in Greece. The artwork was on display at the Copenhagen gallery from June to October 2017. It was then featured as the backdrop for a Volkswagen Polo campaign in October that same year.

Ai Weiwei encountered the ad back in March 2017 and claimed that his work was used without permission, and he was not credited as the artist. “I am suing Volkswagen in Denmark for violating my intellectual property and moral rights,” said the artist in an Instagram post. “The infringing material was circulated to over 200,000 people, giving the false impression that I had authorized Volkswagen to use my artwork in its ad for the new Polo.”

On Tuesday, Weiwei posted a selfie on Instagram flipping off the Volkswagen logo. “On the way to Copenhagen to attend the court hearing for our case against Volkswagen,” read the caption.

The following Wednesday, the hearing took place at Glostrup District Court in Copenhagen. A representative for Volkswagen Denmark told CNN that the company would not comment on ongoing case. “However, the spokesman said the company had admitted its mistake and had tried to reach a resolution with the artist for the past year,” reports CNN.

The artist claimed that he had unsuccessful attempts to resolve the matter with Volkswagen. “Volkswagen and other multinational corporations have tremendous bargaining power in intellectual property protection as well as environmental and human rights,” he wrote. “They are not above the law.”

Ai Weiwei is not the first artist to sue an automaker over the unauthorized use of images. Last April, artists Daniel Bombardier, Maxx Gramajo, James “Dabls” Lewis, and Jeff Soto sued Mercedes-Benz for using their Detroit murals in ads surrounding its G 500 vehicle.

 

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I am suing Volkswagen in Denmark for violating my intellectual property and moral rights. My artwork “Soleil Levant” (2017), which I created for World Refugee Day, was installed at Copenhagen’s Kunsthal Charlottenborg from June 20 to October 1, 2017. The work comprises 3,500 lifejackets used by refugees who fled to Lesvos, Greece, escaping persecution and conflict. In October 2017 Volkswagen Denmark used an unauthorized photo of “Soleil Levant” in an ad for its VW Polo campaign. I was not credited as the artist, and my artwork image was uncredited and cropped without permission. The infringing material was circulated to over 200,000 people, giving the false impression that I had authorized Volkswagen to use my artwork in its ad for the new Polo. I was astonished by Volkswagen’s brazen violations of my intellectual property and moral rights. Since November 2017 I have been trying to resolve the matter with Volkswagen. In more than one year of fruitless negotiation, they only engaged in arrogant gestures to trivialize their guilt and dismiss the matter. Intellectual property protection lies at the heart of a society that values human invention and makes our useful accumulation of knowledge possible. Respect of intellectual property law is one cornerstone of a functioning international legal system. As one of the largest European companies, Volkswagen should understand these same laws. Volkswagen and other multinational corporations have tremendous bargaining power in intellectual property protection as well as environmental and human rights. They are not above the law. Human rights, like intellectual property, is a popular concept but one that is difficult to enforce. We should remember that Germany took in one million refugees in 2015, a powerful humanitarian act in a divided world. As one of Germany’s internationally most visible companies, Volkswagen’s disregard for fair play and humanitarian issues is truly disturbing.

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