23 September 2022

It seems as if plagiarism has become a buzzword recently as not a day goes by without someone claiming that a design or song has been plagiarised.

Plagiarism is another word for copyright infringement; i.e. copying original elements from a copyrighted work in such a way that it cannot be considered as a new work that qualifies for copyright protection.

Whether or not copyright has actually been infringed is often not even an issue when an accusation of plagiarism is made. The mere claim that a design or song is ‘very similar’ is usually enough to have the disputed work ‘cancelled’. This is a pity, as it could be interesting to hear a court’s opinion on this matter.

The most recent plagiarism case concerned Croatia's design for their €1 coin, which depicts a marten. Apparently, this marten is very similar to another marten in a photograph, and the photographer raised quite a fuss. Such a big fuss, in fact, that the design for the coin has been withdrawn so that we will never have the opportunity to explore whether or not it was plagiarism.

Admittedly, the pose looks somewhat similar. But obviously, you are allowed to draw inspiration from others, as long as you add your own personal flavour. In principle, a different representation of the marten could already be enough, but unfortunately, we will never find out.

Coin met groene achtergrond


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