Poster designer says ‘Oldboy’ stole his ideas, Spike Lee says it’s not his problem

Wide Screen

Director Spike Lee has responded to claims that the poster designs for his latest film “Oldboy” were plagiarized and used without the original designer’s permission.

The short answer? He says it’s not his problem.

Designer Jean Luis Garcia recently penned an open letter to Lee. In the Internet plea that which went viral this week, Garcia claims that he was commissioned by an agency to create poster designs for Lee’s “Oldboy.” However, when he declined the “insultingly low” sum offered to him for said designs, Garcia later discovered that the official posters for the movie ended up being strikingly similar to his own.

To make matters worse, Garcia’s letter also asserts that his original designs were posted on the official Facebook pages of Spike Lee and his production company 40 Acres and a Mule Filmworks, with both Lee and the company making copyright claims to the work (the posts have since been removed).

Taking to his Twitter account, Lee tweeted that Garcia is barking up the wrong tree:

I Never Heard Of This Guy Juan Luis Garcia,If He Has A Beef It's Not With Me.I Did Not Hire Him,Do Not Know Him.Cheap Trick Writing To Me.YO

— Spike Lee (@SpikeLee) November 28, 2013

Lee’s response only seemed to add fuel to the fire, with dozens and dozens of people chastising the Oscar-nominated director for the content and tone of his response. The director was even more testy on his Instagram account when one commenter told the him to pay Garcia for his work.

“Why Should I Pay Someone Who I Never Met Nor Had Any Contact With Ever?” Lee wrote. “He Never Made Any Deal With Me.Why Don't You Pay Me For Your Stupid Text On Thanksgiving Day?”

This whole “Oldboy” poster debacle has helped highlight a real and very serious issue in the graphic design industry, one that often sees artists create pieces “on spec” and either not be fairly compensated for their work or have that work ripped off by the agencies that hire them.

It’s very possible that Lee wasn’t involved in the decision making about the final poster design, or responsible for posting Garcia’s work on Facebook, for that matter. But the filmmaker’s stubborn and insensitive responses to the situation have not helped at all.

What do you think? Do you think the "Oldboy" poster is a rip off of Garcia's work? Should Spike Lee apologize?