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Joan Cornellà’s Stephen Chow Infringement is a Caution for NFT Artists

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NFT infringement appears to be intensifying in the industry, reminding artists to tread cautiously when drawing inspiration for their works.

Earlier this year, French luxury house Hermès sued an NFT creator for “ripping off” their Birkin trademark. Even Miramax sued Quentin Tarantino over his Pulp Fiction NFTs.

Now, Spanish cartoonist Joan Cornellà has found himself in hot water for issuing an NFT inspired by Hong Kong comedy veteran Stephen Chow.

Partnering with Hong Kong-based creative agency AllRightsReserved’s Fwenclub, Cornellà launched his first-ever NFT collection “MOAR” last week.

One of the 5,555 NFTs featured a cartoon man dressed in a similar outfit to Chow’s character from the 1994 spy comedy From Beijing with Love.

In live chat between Fwenclub and Chow in March, the actor suggested he would receive the NFT as a gift from the team.

Fwenclub has since apologised for using the image without seeking permission from the film’s copyright owner Gala Film Distribution Limited.

“With respect to the possible misbelief that may have been caused by the Subject NFT Image that it is associated with the Film, we sincerely apologise to Gala for any inconvenience caused”, a statement from Fwenclub read.

Fwenclub added that it would not use the NFT image in any manner in the future.

An apology issued by Fwenclub appears on the company’s website, along with an image of the NFT accused of infringing on the copyright of a Stephen Chow film. Photo: Screenshot

Although Gala Film Distribution Limited has not taken legal action against the artist, Fwenclub’s apology demonstrates the increasing sensitivity surrounding NFT infringement. The image, whilst obviously based on Chow’s character, was not directly lifted from the 1994 film. Moving forward, NFT artists must consider the legal framework that applies to traditional mediums.