Photographic Plagiarism

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The Online Photographer is linking to a Slate post called Can photographers be plagiarists? by David Segal. I'm not a legal scholar, but as an artist I think the answer would be yes. I think the standard for proof of this charge should be set very high, but at some point there is a line that shouldn't be crossed. Letting an artists work inspire you is one thing, but an outright copy is another. Take the Nanpu bridge photographs for instance. If Horst and Daniel Zielske had added something to the mix, I would never have considered given Peter Bialobrzeski's claim of plagiarism any credit at all. Looking at the photographs though, I don't see where they've added anything to the work of Peter Bialobrzeski. They appear to me to be very, very similar. Where is their artistic vision? Where is their modification that made the composition better? The change in lighting, or the change of angle that makes this their work? I don't see it. Again, I'm by no means a legal scholar, but I think Peter Bialobrzeski may have a case. In looking at both these photos, I see only his hard work.

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Hmm.. I have to differ. Yes, those two photographs are indeed very similar. But from my understanding of the article, the exhibition consisted of many photographs. And the two specific examples are both "landscape" pictures in towns. I would guess that if I was to have an exhibition that included, say, a picture of the Eiffel tower and one of the Empire State Building, there would certainly be others who have made similar pictures.

I don't entirely disagree with you, I'd have to reserve judgment until I'd seen them in more detail. The similarities are striking however. If, as the article suggests, there are multiple examples of Horst and Daniel Zielske appearing to duplicate the work of Peter Bialobrzeski I'd start to favor his charge. There is also his claim that the two photographers in question "actually called years earlier for advice about exposures, film, and vantage points". If true, that also would lead me to side with Mr. Bialobrzeski.