Flamenco pair in legal battle over photograph

The Amor Flamenco photograph that was used for the derivative work
The Amor Flamenco photograph that was used for the derivative work

IMITATION may be said to be the sincerest form of flattery – but it has also led to an international legal battle.

Brother and sister José and Ana Dueñas León say their flamenco company’s photograph has been used by an American artist without their permission.

Guitarist José, who lives in Southwick, and dancer Ana from Shoreham both feature in the photograph on their Amor Flamenco website.

They believe the image, which was used to promote international performances in 2007, has been altered using a computer and is now on sale as a painting, selling as ‘an original piece of artwork’.

Ana said she had mixed feelings: “It’s a huge compliment. Out of the millions of images of flamenco performers online, the artist chose ours to portray authentic flamenco character. Unfortunately it is being used without consent and is an infringement of copyright law.”

She said the use of the photo could be seen to be the highest compliment – albeit one riddled with legal implications.

The derivative work is selling in several different formats, some priced over £330. It is also being exhibited and sold through online art galleries.

Ana has been photographed for high-profile advertising campaigns, including Holiday Inn and Deutsche Post, and her image has been used on some of the top-selling flamenco albums, but always with permission.

She said she has contacted the artist and the art gallery, asking that they withdraw the image from their sites but that has not happened to date.

As the legal storm rages on, Ana’s own separate flamenco company, Tormenta Flamenca, is preparing to bring a moving show to Brighton and Hove next month.

Entitled La Vida, which means life, the show explores the breadth and depth of life’s experiences, from turbulence to harmony, struggle to achievement and glory; loss and betrayal to joy, reward and love.

She said the show would be bare in its emotions and the audience would feel intimately part of the journey, sharing –and even contributing –to the changes in mood and pace.

“Flamenco has the power to move an audience in a way other performing arts do not,” explained Ana.

She said the should would undoubtedly include a portrayal of conflict, to reflect the recent breach of artistic copyright.

Ana added: “It’s all part of the richness of life.”

Tormenta Flamenca will be performed at The Old Market Theatre, Hove, on October 5. Visit www.tormentaflamenca.com for more information.