*Months after Juan Luis Garcia came forward to claim that Spike Lee had used his proposed movie posters for “Oldboy,” the designer has filed a copyright infringement lawsuit.
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.”
Last November, the plaintiff wrote an open letter to the direct, saying that he had worked exclusively on the posters for two months, and when the ad agency gave him an extremely low offer for his work, he declined.
In response to that letter, Lee tweeted, “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.” One man responded to Lee on Instagram, saying, “Dude pay the graphic artist,” and Lee responded, “Why Should I Pay Someone Who I Never Met Nor Had Any Contact With Ever? He Never Made Any Deal With Me. Why Don’t You Pay Me For Your Stupid Text On Thanksgiving Day?”
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. “Moreover, Defendants knew this was false at the time these posters were created, but continued to reproduce and distribute this false information.”
Garcia claims copyright infringement as well as the more rare claim of a violation under 17 U.S.C. 1202. The latter claim has to do with the alleged alteration of copyright management information. The plaintiff, represented by attorney Douglas Linde, seeks various profits and statutory damages not specified.