Remember Rabbit Town, the “selfie tourism” spot in the West Java capital of Bandung that was sued over its blatant plagiarism of an iconic art installation in LA? The case has reached its end after almost a year, with the court siding with the plaintiffs.
In a summary of the ruling dated April 20, 2021 and received by Coconuts today, the Central Jakarta Commercial Court said that Rabbit Town violated copyright laws in a lawsuit brought forward by the estate of late artist Chris Burden. The recreation park’s Love Light installation was found to have plagiarized Burden’s Urban Light (2008), a large-scale assemblage sculpture composed of 202 street lights arranged in a grid located right outside the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA).
The court has ordered Rabbit Town to take down its Love Light installation within 30 working days since the verdict.
Not only that, the park is also required to pay IDR1 billion (US$69,333) in compensation to the plaintiffs and issue a public apology on its social media pages and through mass media.
Other installations at Rabbit Town, which first opened to the public in early 2018, include a replica of a frozen delights-inspired installation at the Museum of Ice Cream in LA and a sticker room similar to that by celebrated Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama — though the latter appears nowhere to be found on its Instagram page at the time of writing.
Rabbit Town may still file an appeal to the Supreme Court within 14 days after the verdict. The park has yet to issue a public statement as of this article’s publication.
While this may have looked like an open-and-shut case at a glance, the outcome of this case represents a rare victory for plaintiffs in a copyright lawsuit, given that such issues in Indonesia are never that straightforward especially when concerning intellectual rights from abroad. In Indonesia, it’s actually pretty well-established at this point that being the creator of an intellectual property or brand, even a globally recognized one that’s been in use for decades, means approximately jack squat.
As long as somebody registers the brand/logo/character in Indonesia before the original owner, no matter how well known it is, the Indonesian legal system is likely to side with the former. Just ask Superman.