Egyptian graphic designer Ghada Wali was sentenced to six months of imprisonment for plagiarising artwork from Russian artist Georgy Kurasov. The artwork was used in murals in the Cairo Underground Metro stations.
The court’s verdict, announced on 30 January, also included an EGP 10,000 (USD 323) bail and an EGP 100,000 (USD 3,236) civil compensation.
Previously thought of as one of Egypt’s most renowned graphic designers, the 34-year-old was placed under the public spotlight in June 2022 after Kurasov took to Facebook to show his outrage at seeing his work plagiarised.
In July 2022, both Egypt’s National Tunnels Authority and RATP Dev Mobility Cairo, a company responsible for the metro’s third line, issued an apology to Kurasov. Following the apology, Wali’s murals were promptly removed.
Details provided by the two companies revealed that Wali’s Studio, the graphic designer’s advertising agency, signed a legally binding contract with the metro authorities to bear the responsibility for providing original artwork – or obtaining legal approval to use the artwork of someone else.
The metro station scandal brought attention to additional plagiarism cases, including replicating an Indian film poster for an Egyptian movie and stealing students’ creative concept proposal for branding Luxor without crediting their work.
Despite evidence being shown, Wali denied any wrongdoing during a talk show interview at the peak of the controversy in May 2023. Wali refused to call her work plagiarism, instead claiming Kurasov stole from Egyptian culture.
“We both stole from Picasso,” Wali also claimed during a tell-all live interview with talk show host Amr Adib in May 2023.
Kurasov is also planning to take legal action against Wali and Pepsi over another plagiarism case in an advertisement campaign for 7 Up in 2018.
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