By: Steve Dellar | 05-18-2018 | News
Photo credit: Twitter | @matusbence

New National Geographic Cover - Plagiarism?

The new National Geographic cover was hailed as an icon immediately after its publication earlier this week. The nature magazine cover shows the current state of plastic pollution in the world’s oceans in a very striking way which has everyone talking about it. But Matus Bence, a Slovak graphic designer, says it bears a striking resemblance to a similar image he made for the American supermarket Tesco back in 2015.

Putting the two images next to each other, it is indeed quite clear why Mr Bence is not too pleased with National Geographic claiming originality of the idea.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Planet or plastic? Excellent cover by <a href="">@NatGeo</a>. <a href=";ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#NationalGeographic</a> <a href=";ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#environment</a> <a href=";ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#planet</a> <a href=";ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#sea</a> <a href=";ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#press</a> <a href=";ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#MakeThePlanetGreatAgain</a> <a href=""></a></p>&mdash; Christophe Robin (@XopheRobin) <a href="">May 17, 2018</a></blockquote>

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The cover of National Geographic was announced on Twitter on May 16 by photo editor Vaughn Wallace. Already a day later Mr Bence reacted with the self-made image from 2015. He made the image for a campaign by US supermarket Tesco wanting at the time to prevent the use of plastic bags

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr"><a href="">@vaughnwallace</a> thats sad that you chose a stolen idea and &quot;artwork&quot; to be on your cover page. NatGeo should know better. <a href=""></a> <a href=""></a></p>&mdash; Matúš Bence (@MatusBence) <a href="">May 17, 2018</a></blockquote>

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National Geographic Holland reacted: “The image that was used was made last year by an artist from Bolivia. In 2017 he won a prize with it and the jury at the time judged that plagiarism was not committed. National Geographic used the image for the cover because it is rare that the entire theme of plastic pollution is captured in one image. Has one artist plagiarized the other? We think, just like the jury that judged the image last year, not. "

Mr Jan van Vegchel, expert lawyer in the field of intellectual property and copyright, believes that the Slovakian graphic designer has a good chance of winning a court case against National Geographic: “The bags look alike, the color and position of the sea and the air match, there are so many elements in both pictures that one could assume this is an unauthorized copy.”


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2 Comment/s
Anonymous No. 26448 2018-05-18 : 18:06

A clear likeness

Anonymous No. 26455 2018-05-18 : 20:40

Photo subject commonality yes. But the 2 look different to me.

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