MyNews says bag artwork was in public domain

-A +A

KUALA LUMPUR (April 12): MyNews Holdings Bhd said the bag artwork at the heart of a legal suit between two artists and the company and its subsidiary, was in the public domain with no copyright notice attached.

In a Bursa Malaysia filing, the group’s executive director and CEO Dang Tai Luk said the artwork in question — which was displayed on bags sold at its convenience store last October — was published on Nov 23, 2007 with no reference to the author or creator of the artwork, and/or the plaintiffs Shamsaimun Ezil and Amir Hamzah Hashim as the purported copyright owners of the artwork.

“The plaintiffs only made a statutory declaration to allege ownership of the copyright in the artwork on Dec 17, 2018, that is some 11 years after the artwork was supposedly authored or created and some two months after the plaintiffs’ solicitors had issued their letter of demand to us dated Oct 19, 2018, and after receiving our solicitors’ reply letter dated Nov 15, 2018,” he added.

He added that Homework Studio, which were run by the plaintiffs, had ceased to exist as a business entity on Jan 24, 2014, according to the latest search from the Companies Commission of Malaysia.

Dang also noted that a letter dated Jan 2, 2019 from the plaintiffs’ solicitors clarified that Amir Hamzah, who was the alleged author or creator of the artwork, was not an employee of Homework as the plaintiffs had claimed in a previous letter dated Oct 19, 2018.

Moreover, the bags in question — the Icon Recycle Bag with Zips and the Icon Recycle Document Bag with Zips — were procured by a third party supplier and details of the procurement have been furnished to the artists’ legal representation on Nov 15, 2018.

Dang said their solicitors have advised them that the existence of the alleged copyright in the art work “is in doubt” and if it did, they categorically state that they did not infringe the copyright under any circumstance.

MyNews issued the statement in response to a report by theedgemarkets.com, highlighting the legal dispute between the the group and the artists.

Both Shamsaimun and Amir allege the group and its subsidiary Eemerge Incorporated Sdn Bhd used the artwork owned by them on two bags that were sold in MyNews outlets in October last year, without permission.

MyNews had in the Nov 15 letter, said it had stopped selling the bags but denied it was responsible for the alleged copyright breach.

Shamsaimun and Amir Hamzah claimed the defendants had profited from their artwork and are seeking a declaration that MyNews had violated their copyright under Section 36 of the Copyright Act.

They are seeking an injunction barring the defendants from producing and selling the artwork and bags, a discovery application detailing the production, distribution and sale of the bags, and an inquiry as to the losses suffered by Homework.

“Our solicitors have assured us that they shall be vigorously opposing the Plaintiff’s [the artists’] claim and appropriate steps will be taken to resist any application that the Plaintiffs may have for injunctive relief. Discovery and enquiries against us” Dang said.

As of 3:46pm, the counter traded 0.72% or a sen higher to RM1.40 — with 352,600 shares traded — giving it a market capitalisation of RM955.01 million.