PARIS (Reuters) - Fashion designer John Galliano’s company was ordered to pay 200,000 euros ($271,800) in damages to renowned U.S. photographer William Klein for unauthorized use of his atmospheric imagery in an advertising campaign.
The photographer, who lives in France said he was “furious” at Galliano’s use of some of his half-painted photographs of street scenes in advertisements in several fashion magazines.
Klein’s giant versions of contact sheets showing a series of photographs, painted over in colored enamel to highlight particular images, were a popular feature of a recent exhibition at the Pompidou Centre in Paris.
The court of first instance in Paris said Klein’s “painted contacts” were a hallmark of his work and Galliano’s use of imagery was clearly illegal in the absence of authorization from the photographer.
It ordered the designer to pay 150,000 euros to compensate for abuse of Klein’s rights as author and 50,000 euros in damages to the image of the work that resulted from the poor quality of the reproductions.
Galliano said it would appeal the ruling with the aim of reducing the fine as it rejected the allegation its campaign could be considered “counterfeiting”.
“John Galliano’s advertising campaign did not reproduce any original image of the artist, it can’t therefore be accused of be counterfeiting,” Galliano’s lawyer Michel-Paul Escaped said in a statement.
Klein told the daily Le Monde he had first become aware of the campaign when a friend asked him why he had authorized the use of his pictures in an advertisement.
He called the reproductions of his work “gross plagiary” and said: “I am insulted and furious”.
Galliano was appointed designer at Givenchy in 1995 before switching to Christian Dior the following year.
Klein said he was particularly offended because Dior has led a relentless campaign against illegal reproductions of its own creations.
A spokeswoman for Dior said the two companies were financially separate despite the fact Galliano is Dior’s chief designer and Dior’s chief executive is also Galliano’s chairman.
Additional reporting by Nick Antonovics
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