Che Guevara’s Image is Still Generating Lawsuits

Blog, Property Rights, Marco Navarro-Genie

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a newspaper column about the impact of property rights on the famous Che Guevara image (known as the Korda image) here. The core of the piece was that the famous picture of the Maoist guerrilla revolutionary commander, taken by a Cuban communist, had ironically become a generator of great wealth for the American company that temporarily bought the rights to it, and which was having garments with the image made in sweat shops in Honduras.

The latest legal chapter in the Che Guevara T-shirt saga involving property rights just closed in a Paris courtroom at le Tribunal de Grande Instance de Paris this past January.

The current holder of the Korda image copyright is the Cypriot firm Legende Global.  Diana Evangelina Diaz, daughter and heir of Alberto Diaz Gutierrez, the picture’s photographer,  ceded the world rights to Legende Global until 2018.

The Onion's creation to which Korda's daughter objects

Like David McWilliams of the US firm Fashion Victim, the previous copyright owner, Legende Global and Ms. Diaz are happy to sue people using the image without their consent.  Their case in the Paris court (Legende Global, Diana D. c/ Onion) is against the popular American satire website The Onion.  The Onion Store has been selling a spoof version of the Che T-shirt in which Korda’s Che Guevara appears wearing a Che Guevara T-shirt. They call it the “Che Wearing Che T-shirt T-shirt.”

The Onion countered that if such a case had merit, it should be introduced in Wisconsin,  the company’s home turf.  The French court found itself not in competency to judge a case launched by foreign nationals (Cypriot and Cuban) against a foreign (American) company selling on the Internet. The case was dismissed  because the plaintiffs presented no evidence that their complaint was effectively connected to French jurisdiction.

A summary of the case at the Tribunal de Grande Instance de Paris is found here (en francais).

h/t:  Marianne D.