Spike Lee has been slapped with a copyright infringement lawsuit from artist Juan Luis Garcia regarding Lee’s recent film reboot of Oldboy. Garcia is aserting that Lee used his proposed movie posters after initially declining to use them and pay the artist.
Garcia claims that he created the posters for the film and offered them to Lee and his Forty Acres and a Mule Filmworks production company “access to the posters, and offered Defendants the opportunity to use them to market their film, with the condition precedent that they pay Plaintiff for such use. Defendants never paid Plaintiff.”
However, the ad agency apparently offered a very low amount of money for the work so Garcia withdrew the work. Then, last November, Garcia wrote an open letter to the director saying that he had worked exclusively on the posters for two months and in response to that letter, Lee tweeted,
“I Never Heard Of This Guy Juan Luis Garcia,If He Has A Beef It’s Not With Me.I Did Not Hire Him,Do Not Know Him.Cheap Trick Writing To Me.YO.” One man responded to Lee on Instagram, saying, “Dude pay the graphic artist,” and Lee responded, “Why Should I Pay Someone Who I Never Met Nor Had Any Contact With Ever? He Never Made Any Deal With Me.Why Don’t You Pay Me For Your Stupid Text On Thanksgiving Day?”
According to the lawsuit, it mostly takes issue with the fact that the Oldboy posters were released with the tags, “;© 2013 Spike Lee,”; and “;© 40 Acres and a Mule Filmworks.”
“This copyright attribution is false, as Plaintiff owns these posters, not anyone else, and the images were not owned or under license to Defendants,” states the complaint (read here). “Moreover, Defendants knew this was false at the time these posters were created, but continued to reproduce and distribute this false information.”
Garcia also claims copyright infringement as well as the more rare claim of a violation under 17 U.S.C. 1202. The latter claim has to do with the alleged alteration of copyright management information. The plaintiff, represented by attorney Douglas Linde, seeks various profits and statutory damages not specified.