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Poster Designer Is Suing Spike Lee For Ripping Off His Oldboy Poster

By / 05.28.14

You may remember that back in November, Juan Luis Garcia wrote an open letter to Spike Lee, explaining that he’d been hired by an ad agency to create some comps for an Oldboy poster. Garcia wrote that the agency had told him that everyone (including Spike) loved his designs, but then gave him “an insultingly low offer,” telling him he should be happy with the exposure. He turned them down, only to see his designs more or less copied in the final poster designs. After the letter broke, Spike Lee, being the helpful guy he is, did everything he could to make sure Garcia was fairly compensated for the work he did. Ha, just kidding. Spike Lee took the earnest plea for help as a personal insult and fired off a hastily worded tweet.

I Never Heard Of This Guy Juan Luis Garcia,If He Has A Beef It’s Not With Me.I Did Not Hire Him,Do Not Know Him.Cheap Trick Writing To Me.YO.

Regardless of what actually happened, there are a lot of ways Spike Lee could’ve handled that, and “f*ck this nobody, why’s he tweeting at me?” is one of the worst. Not surprisingly, Garcia is now taking the matter to court. Jeez, first he writes a letter to the guy he thinks might help him, now he’s taking to the courts to settle a dispute? This guy’s full of cheap tricks!

The complaint was filed on Tuesday in California federal court by Garcia, who says he previously designed the posters for such films as The Great Gatsby, 12 Years A Slave, Lincoln, 42 and Jobs.

In the lawsuit, Garcia says he offered Lee and his Forty Acres and a Mule Filmworks production company “access to the posters, and offered Defendants the opportunity to use them to market their film, with the condition precedent that they pay Plaintiff for such use. Defendants never paid Plaintiff.”

The lawsuit takes issue with the fact that the Oldboy posters were released with the tags, “© 2013 Spike Lee,” and “© 40 Acres and a Mule Filmworks.”

“This copyright attribution is false, as Plaintiff owns these posters, not anyone else, and the images were not owned or under license to Defendants,” states the complaint (read here). “Moreover, Defendants knew this was false at the time these posters were created, but continued to reproduce and distribute this false information.” [THR]

The copyright tag issue will be an interesting one, because I believe the initial posters that were tagged with Spike Lee and 40 Acres came from Spike’s WhoSay account, which watermarks all your images automatically unless you change it in your preferences. I imagine Spike’s attorney might try to argue that Spike didn’t intentionally tag them that way, and use as evidence of his computer naivete the fact that he continues to capitalize every word he tweets like some malfunctioning douchebot. “Was heavily influential on the tweeting style of Jaden Smith” is not a line you want on your epitaph.

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