Legal issues on the Che Guevara image

Monday, March 8, 2010

Row rages over iconic image of Che Guevara:
It is the photograph that adorns student bedsits across the world. The famed black and white portrait of Ernesto "Che" Guevara perfectly captured his intense stare and brooding good looks, helping establish his myth. But exactly 50 years since Cuban photographer Alberto Díaz "Korda" Gutiérrez snapped the Marxist revolutionary, the image has become the subject of bitter legal battles.

Since Korda's death in 2001, his daughter, Diana Díaz, has pursued companies she accuses of breaching the photograph's copyright by using it in their advertising campaigns. Her father employed a similar tactic when he sued Smirnoff Vodka for the illegal use of the image in 2001, a case that re-established his copyright after 41 years.

Díaz's legal battles are not without controversy – or irony. For decades the Argentinian-born Guevara's adopted spiritual home of Cuba did not recognise copyright. It was only following the collapse of the former Soviet Union that Cuba joined the World Trade Organisation and legalised copyright.
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