19:33 / 06.02.2022.

Author: Katja Miličić

Winning Euro coin design may have been copied from a copyrighted photo

The selected design for the one euro coin

The selected design for the one euro coin

Foto: HTV / HRT

Croatia unveiled the chosen designs for its future euro coins on Friday and one of the selections is already mired in controversy. 

The selected design of the one euro coin features the motif of a marten, the kuna, but the design may have been copied by the artist from someone else's work without permission. Soon after the announcement of the selected designs, comparisons began to appear on social media between designer Stjepan Pranjković's marten motif and a photograph by British wildlife photographer Iain Leach. The images are strikingly similar.

Leach told N1 television that the shot was taken in Scotland where his photos are protected by copyright. He said no one had asked him for permission to use the image as the basis for a coin design and that Pranjković should return the prize money. Pranjković received 70 thousand kuna for his winning submission.

The designs were chosen through a process involving two committees of the Croatian National Bank. Artists were invited to submit designs and those designs were chosen in a three-part process. Designer Ira Payer served along with 16 other members on one of the committees and participated in the selection of the nine winning designs. She represented the Croatian Designer's Association on the committee. Payer is reluctant to describe what happened as a case of plagiarism.

"I think this is a case of a lack of understanding of what an original design is or should be. It is fine to be inspired by something or even to reference someone's work using certain elements or to explore their work. However, a professional designer knows that after researching something, he or she must take their own work several steps further," Payer told Croatian Radio.

The Croatian Government said the Croatian National Bank was in charge of the design selection process and underscored that all artists who submitted designs had to sign a statement that the work was their own. The central bank said it has launched an inquiry into the matter. However, all of this could be further complicated by the fact that Croatia is on a tight schedule if it wants to adopt the euro in 2023. The designs have already been approved and holding another competition and selection process could take months.

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