Soviet-era artist accuses gay group of copyright violation

BY admin

October 07 2003 11:00 PM ET

A Lithuanian artist who gained fame for sculptures glorifying muscular, square-jawed workers during the Communist era is seeking damages from a local gay advocacy group that allegedly printed a picture of one of his statues without permission. The photograph of the larger-than-life bronzed figures--a miner wielding a jackhammer and a stonemason standing side by side--appeared recently on the cover of a Lithuanian Gay League publication devoted to gay rights, the country's copyright protection agency said Monday. "I created a monument of two socialist workers, not gays," complained 80-year-old artist Bronius Vysniauskas. "One is younger, another older--both strong and full of energy. I don't know how homosexuals came to the idea my models were gay."

Representatives of the Gay League in the ex-Soviet Baltic republic of 3.5 million people have denied violating anyone's copyright, saying prejudice is behind the complaint. "Why can't [the men in the statue] be gay?" said Vladimiras Simonko, who heads the Gay League. "When I look at this statue, I see two young, pretty men. No women are around." He said the figures, which stand atop a bridge in the capital, Vilnius, were among the few representations in the country of men standing together, adding
that his organization intended to begin regularly putting flowers at its base.

Vysniauskas has asked the group to pay him around 1,000 litas (U.S. $300) in compensation. He said if it refuses, he will sue them for defamation, seeking some 25,000 litas (U.S. $8,000).

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