Left: Lygia Pape, Ttéia, 2003. Photo: Tony Kyriacou/Rex Features. Right: Screenshot of LG's wallpaper.

Lygia Pape’s Daughter Sues LG Electronics for Copyright Infringement

Claiming that the South Korean company LG Electronics is using an image similar to her late mother’s installation of golden threads that bisect in a dark room—Ttéia, 2003—as a wallpaper option available on their K20 V mobile phone, the daughter of the seminal twentieth-century artist Lygia Pape is now filing a copyright infringement lawsuit against LG, several vendors of its mobile phones, and Getty Images Korea, in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York.

Sarah P. Hanson reports in the Art Newspaper that the complaint states that LG had previously sought to license an image of Ttéia from Projeto Lygia Pape, the artist’s estate administered by her daughter Paula Pape. After she had denied LG’s repeated requests via Getty Images, the plaintiff says the company ignored the advice of its copyright agent and proceeded to create an “unauthorized derivation” of Pape’s work that it then sought permission from the estate to use instead.

The Projeto Lygia Pape rejected this “unequivocally,” noting that a license would not be granted “under any circumstances,” as the artist had refused to engage in commercial transactions around her art for much of her life. Regardless, LG went ahead and used a similar image, according to the complaint. Paula Pape is seeking a jury trial to award damages, plus a permanent injunction against LG prohibiting further shipment or sales of their device or promotional materials, and furthermore demands that the company reveal the identity of the image’s creator and destroy all unauthorized derivations. Her lawyer, Paul Cossu of Cahill Cossu Robinson & Noh LLP, said, “Because the image is the default wallpaper in the phone’s software and is featured on the box it comes in, Ms. Pape has asked the court to recall all packaging, advertising, and other materials that contain the infringing image, including the phone itself if the wallpaper cannot be otherwise removed therefrom.”

LG’s counsel, John A. Mancini of Mayer Brown LLP, could not be reached for comment. For more on the artist, see Briony Fer’s review of her exhibition at the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía in the October 2011 issue of Artforum.