A copyright infringement lawsuit by luxury goods brand Louis Vuitton against Danish artist Nadia Plesner has taken to the streets in Maastricht, The Netherlands. Plesner was sued by the company in 2008 for selling t-shirts to benefit Darfur that bore the image of a Sudanese child holding a chihuahua and one of Vuitton's iconic bags. Earlier this year the company sued her again for using the image in a giant painting, scaled to match Picasso's Guernica and called Darfurnica. Vuitton's suit filed in The Hague lists penalties of 5,000 Euros per day for each day the image remains on her site.
Now street artist Little Louis writes in that the "starved little boy carrying a Chihuahua and a fashion bag has grown to a height of seven meters on the facade" of a building at the cultural free zone The Landbouwbelang. The image differs from Plesner's original in one key way: the Vuitton bag is left blank, so artists can use it as a canvas for their own messages.
While there are some news reports that Vuitton is willing to settle the case, Plesner calls such stories an attempt by the company "to disinform the media by stating that it is all a big misunderstanding and they never had any problem with my painting Darfurnica and are willing to drop the case." She continues:
First of all, and let me be very clear on this point: we explicitly asked Louis Vuitton to lift the ex parte court order. They have refused and continue to refuse to lift the order. If that position changes that would of course be great but so far it has not.On Mar. 17, Plesner filed her own counter-suit against Vuitton (read it here) aimed at getting the court's order against her lifted. She argues that the order is an "unacceptable infringement on [her] right to freedom of speech" and a "gross violation of the right to a fair trial," both of which should be afforded her by the European Convention on Human Rights.
Second, Louis Vuitton specifically asked and got a prohibition on me exhibiting (offline and online) or selling any image of the little boy with the bag, as incorporated in my works Simple Living and the painting Darfurnica. There can thus be no "misunderstanding". The fact that they suddenly act as if there is no problem at all and are willing to "leave it at this" seems to be an attempt to pacify the media, while at the same time they continue the battle against me outside the eyes of the media. "Leaving it at this" means that the court order and the penalties remain.
The first hearing on the case is Mar. 30.