A teacher accused McDonald’s Taiwan of plagiarizing the work of German photographer by using similar images on its Web site without crediting him.
According to reports in the Chinese-language Apple Daily, an arts teacher identified only as Heidi was browsing the McDonald’s Taiwan Web site on Tuesday looking to order something, and she thought the photographs on the opening page looked familiar.
The three images are of models in summery clothes lying on a beach in various playful poses and accompanied by plastic toys.
After checking around, Heidi was able to identify the images were nearly direct copies of work by the award-winning German photographer Jan von Holleben.
The style, setting and poses used on the Web site were nearly identical to the representations in Holleben’s photographs, except that Taiwanese had been substituted for the Western models used by Holleben.
She made contact with Von Holleben, who said that he was surprised by the news.
Holleben then posted a comparison of the images on his Facebook page yesterday, and wrote, “WOW! MORNING SHOCK!! MC DONALDS TAIWAN loves my work but NOT my models! “
“McDonald’s Taiwan is a big company, yet copies work by a German photographer. It does not respect the intellectual property rights of other people. This will cause major damage to our nation’s creative industries,” Heidi said, according to the Apple Daily.
A spokesperson at McDonald’s Taiwan yesterday said the images on the Web site were supplied by the company’s advertising agency, Leo Burnett Taiwan, who purchased them from Getty Images, and therefore, “they had legal authorization, and also the right to make alterations to the photo images.”
The case led to much debate among Taiwanese netizens, with many accusing McDonald’s of plagiarizing professional work, without giving credit.
Others criticized the advertising agency and its designers saying they did not respect Von Holleben’s work.
The three photos in question are from Von Holleben’s series Germany, Family with toys at beach, Father and son playing with water guns at beach and Family together jumping in water at beach.
After receiving a lot of feedback, with some urging him to sue McDonald’s, Von Holleben wrote yesterday that he will not take legal action.
“ALL IS GOOD and I was just very surprised about this particular way of using some of my images for such matter. I am very happy to see unlimited usage and creative interpretations of my work across the universe ! ... I will surely not take any actions against this matter,” Von Holleben wrote.