Photographer Accuses Russian Movie of Stealing His Photo Idea

In 2015, Norwegian photographer Stig Håvard Dirdal took a creative Christmas photo that went viral on the Internet. He was surprised recently when he came across a poster of a Russian movie that looked a little off very a favour.

The original image of a viral human Christmas tree

Dirdal is a photographer known for his creative, fun and unconventional images that often blend photography, illustration, montage, and 3D photography. He established his creative advertising photography company in 2006 and has since won a number of local and international photography awards.

In 2015, Norwegian camera shop hired Stavanger Foto Dirdal to shoot a creative “human Christmas tree” photo showing store employees. The photo, which was turned into the official Christmas card for the store, was a huge hit among customers and spread widely on the Web.

Humorous photographer Stig Håvard Dirdal created for Norwegian camera shop Stavanger Foto in 2015
Humorous photographer Stig Håvard Dirdal created for Norwegian photography shop Stavanger Foto in 2015.

Since then, Dirdal has taken additional creative Christmas photos for the store in 2016, 2017, and 2021.

Creative Christmas photos by photographer Stig Haverd Dierdahl
Christmas photos by photographer Stig Harvard Dierdahl created for Stavanger Photo (top left, clockwise) 2016, 2017, and 2021.

Due to the widespread misuse of his image, Dirdal registered the copyright of the image with the US Copyright Office in 2018.

Registration certificate issued by the US Copyright Office for the image
Dirdal Image Registration Certificate with the US Copyright Office.

Read also: How to copyright your photos in the United States

“Every year I’m contacted by companies from all over the world who want to use my idea for their Christmas greetings,” says Deardahl. betapixel. “I don’t use original ideas, so I told everyone no.”

In the US, at least, photographers can copyright an image but not idea From the picture.

“In the US an idea can’t protect copyright,” says Mickey Ostreicher, the NPPA’s general counsel. betapixel. Duplicating (not actually copying) the image is also allowed.

Osterreicher notes that one famous example of this was photographer Jacobus Rentmeester’s lawsuit against Nike after the sportswear company created a similar image of basketball star Michael Jordan dunking and then transforming the silhouette into the iconic Jumpman logo.

The original 1984 Rentmeester photo was taken for LIFE magazine (left), the 1985 Nike photo of Jordan Donking (center), and the iconic Jumpman logo based on a Nike photo (right).

A federal court ended up dismissing Rentmeester’s copyright infringement lawsuit, and the U.S. Supreme Court subsequently denied Rentmeester’s request for a hearing.

A human Christmas tree in a Russian movie poster

December 2021 saw the release of a Russian Christmas movie titled yolkie 8 (or “8 Christmas Trees”), the film was promoted and shown in Russia, Europe and North America.

yolky It’s a comedy movie franchise that originally started yolky The film dates back to 2010. The eight films in the series are by far the most successful non-animated films in Russian history, grossing tens of millions of dollars.

Although there were several images inspired by Dirdal’s viral Christmas photo, the photographer was surprised when he saw the movie’s official poster and how close it came to copying his original work.

Official movie poster for the movie yolkie 8.

“I’ve seen a lot of [human] “Christmas trees and my remake of a human Christmas card from 2015, but nothing beats a Yolki 8 card,” says Deardahl. “Is it okay to take or steal ideas or concepts? That idea really is [been] It has proven to be getting a lot of attention since 2015 when it went viral. The answer is definitely no. It’s not okay to steal, and it’s okay to steal great ideas or ideas.

“I make ideas and sell them for a living. Plagiarism makes me not make money. Did Yolki 8 make more money around the world on promoting it based on my idea?”
I think so.”

Creative Presentation for Plagiarism Dispute Resolution

Derdahl consulted with lawyers in Norway, the United States and Russia about whether anything could be done about the apparent plagiarism, and the press in Norway, Europe and Russia covered his social media posts about the “theft”. .

In Russia, his fight against the film’s production company, Bazelevs Productions, is framed as a “David vs. Goliath” fight.

After receiving no response from Bazelevs Productions, Dirdal decided to take a different, more creative approach. Working with the Russian press and the Norwegian Embassy in Moscow, Dirdal came up with an unusual offer for the production company: it would allow movie-goers watching yolkie 8 To determine how much he should demand from the company.

Derdahl watched for the first time yolkie 8 in a local cinema in Norway and wrote a (stinging) review of the film he published Govoret Moskovaone of the most popular radio stations in Russia

If the movie yolkie 8 It was a pie that the creators would like to share, there will be nothing left but crumbs for the New Year holidays, the public and art. Those who ate and were full are greedy patrons with a great desire to assert themselves and earn money, as if the film was created exclusively for patrons, and not for the New Year holidays and lovers of Russian cinema. –Stig Håvard Dirdal in his review of yolkie 8

The station also agreed to publish Dirdal’s show for Bazelevs Productions.

Dirdal asks moviegoers to publicly suggest how much Bazelevs Productions owes him for copying his idea by February 15, 2022. The average proposed amount will then be revealed by Russian and Norwegian media, and Dirdal will require the production company to send the money to the Norwegian Embassy in Moscow.

The photographer says that his goal in all this is not to make money but to defend the rights of photographers and prevent people from misusing and plagiarizing photos.

“If you do that, it will have consequences,” Dierdahl says. Govoret Moskova.

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