The winner of a newly instituted prize for disabled artists was stripped of her title after it became apparent she had plagiarised a Studio Ghibli character; the judges, including an art professor and two gallery bosses, apparently suspected but awarded the prize anyway, whilst the organisers pointed out that they had not actually explicitly prohibited plagiarism.

The top prize for artistic excellence in modern art by a disabled artist was awarded to a 26-year-old woman by the Osaka municipal government, who organised the event. There were 791 entrants in total.


The winning entry in question was entitled “A Downpour of Light” and roundly praised for its use of mosaic effects.


However, after the award a city employee apparently rather more familiar with Ghibli’s work than the judges or anyone viewing the works pointed out that the picture bore an uncanny resemblance to the sky robots in Ghibli’s masterpiece “Laputa.”

Studio Ghibli subsequently confirmed the obvious plagiarism, and the award was hurriedly rescinded.

After being caught the woman innocently claimed she had merely used Laputa as a “motif”: “I love Ghibli and so I made it the motif for this work.”

She then “declined to accept” the prize in a gesture likely intended to allow her and the organisers to save face.

The prize itself was recently instituted specifically in the hopes of encouraging disabled artists, and awarded for the first time to the woman.

The three judges overseeing the award included two heads of art galleries and a professor at an art college; one of the judges actually mentioned that the picture “resembled” Ghibli’s work, but they decided it was not a problem and awarded the prize anyway.

The department organising the event excused itself thusly:

“There wasn’t actually any warning to candidates that they should not submit works infringing on copyright. To avoid this happening again we’d like to devise some countermeasures.”

Sadly the rest of the art on display is strictly “modern art” and so devoid of much in the way of artistic merit:


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    Comment by Anonymous
    01:39 12/02/2010 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    It's only plagiarism if she tried to pass it off as her own work (as in an original piece) and at no point is it indicated that she did that. It seems people cant separate a copyright infringement from plagiarism.

    Comment by Anonymous
    23:36 11/02/2010 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    If there was no set rule against infringing copyrights, then she should have won on the merits of the work, how it was painted, the way it was done etc.

    Next time they should make that a part of the official rules.

    Comment by Anonymous

    Yes, they should've stated clearly just incase, but in an official contest such as this, you expect people got at least awareness of ripping someone's work isn't the way to fly and hopefully little twist here and there is going to do the covering.

    Comment by Anonymous
    00:19 12/02/2010 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    I suppose if she had used a chair instead she would have plagiarized the guy who invented the chair instead. In fact, if she had made anything that even remotely resembles anything that already exists in any way then that would have been plagiarism too.

    Comment by Anonymous

    Ehhh.. what?

    Whoever invented a chair didn't make the chair for the purpose of art or to represent his idea. It is invented with a function as a main purpose. If she had used a chair to create an art she wouldn't be plagiarizing.

    But I'm sure she has to do more than just replicating an ordinary chair or draw one to justify as an art. I'm saying she will need some sort of intriguing idea to go with it or make some sort of statement visually, or even arrange to make aesthetically pleasing.

    Comment by Anonymous
    23:36 11/02/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    This isn't plagiarism, it's a tribute. Plagiarism would imply that someone stole an idea almost word for word, or in this case, replicated an artwork with some tweaks. The painting clearly shows off her own technique and brushwork it's just that she chose the subject from an existing character.

    I've done mosaics before and they're shit hard, time consuming, and tedious. There's a saying in the graphic design community(and maybe this is a general rule of thumb) that if you change a certain % of something, it's not a copy anymore. Depending on the size, this must've taken forever to do and the work that she put in deserves more credit than the outline of a character.

    I guess it's a little more iffy in this case because ghibli films could be consider an artwork and there's a chance that she didn't credit them to begin with. Whatever the case, I would like to see the painting in person since it's hard to tell how good it is from the picture.

    Comment by Anonymous
    01:40 12/02/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Tribute, satire, yes.


    Entire circumstance of judges finding out from source other than this lady changes everything. Because she didn't declare it before it was judged it is no longer passable as a tribute.

    Either way, in an art contest, if you were a judge, would you really want to pick someone who didn't bring his/her own creative idea to the table? Craftsmanship and techniques are important but creativity is what makes art worth it.

    Avatar of Myballz
    Comment by Myballz
    23:38 11/02/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    If only she put a penis on it she would of got away with it.

    Avatar of motaku96
    Comment by motaku96
    15:57 12/02/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    They should have just let her keep the prize. Doing this will only achieve the opposite effect of encouraging disabled artists.

    Comment by Anonymous
    09:20 12/02/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Dumb bitch. Should have just stuck with hentai.

    Comment by Anonymous
    07:38 08/08/2012 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    There'd be a lot of mosaics in that hentai...

    Comment by Anonymous
    06:01 15/03/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Sighhhh, been seeing a lot of this lately... If you take all works of art and look at all of them, you are gonna find things that look similar or even the same, even if the people who created them never saw the other.

    ~There is only a certain amount of materials and only a certain amount of ways to arrange that material so therefore only a certain amount of patterns.~

    The more you look into different type of artworks - Paintings, music, drawings, sculptures - anything, you will be likely to start noticing similarities...

    - wow that turned into a rant fast..-

    Comment by Anonymous
    23:55 13/02/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    In order to avoid the plagiarism charge the artist only needed to call the painting Laputa Sky Robot or something which made it clear that the subject was not her original invention.

    The technique used was worthy of note and there is nothing wrong with make an artistic representation of an already existing subject.

    Avatar of destructorv2
    Comment by destructorv2
    15:56 13/02/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Its hard to get original ideas already, thats just mean.

    Comment by Anonymous
    09:25 13/02/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    >> Sadly the rest of the art on display is strictly “modern art” and so devoid of much in the way of artistic merit

    Modern art = I could do that + Yeah but you didn't

    Comment by Anonymous
    06:41 12/02/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    I don;t get it this is art She drew it Sure someone else drew something very simmilar first but its not like its writing She drew this herself I dont; find that plagirizing myself regardless if she sat down and went with intent to copy laputa stuff identically She didn;t photo copy a cell and enter it or something She created this art herself.

    Avatar of echelon64
    Comment by echelon64
    02:40 12/02/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    "Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery."

    Considering this was a not-for-profit endeavor I fail to see what is so wrong on modeling your artwork on one of the most recognized brands in their country. Ghibli should be astounded that it has such an influence.

    Then again, it was most likely the price was rescinded because she was a woman and disabled.

    Comment by Anonymous
    06:50 12/02/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    You might be right, or maybe fan renditions of popular movie scenes wasn't what they were looking for.

    Comment by Anonymous
    02:57 12/02/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    "Plagiarism" as a term applies to ideas, thoughts, and words (such as the content of an essay or journalistic article), not visual images. Saying she "plagiarized" the character is like accusing someone of jaywalking through a forest - it doesn't make any sense. Warhol didn't plagiarize the soup can. Perhaps she was guilty of copyright infringement (though that would be up to the courts to decide), or perhaps the contest judges felt that the lack of originality took away from the appeal of her piece, but it's not plagiarism either way.

    Comment by Anonymous
    02:03 12/02/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    its similar in the way two nude figures are similar.

    Comment by Anonymous
    01:57 12/02/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Not really plagiarism, since she just took the slight shape of it... Cant even see the details in the mosaic art

    Comment by Anonymous
    02:59 12/02/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    ...the woman innocently claimed she had merely used Laputa as a “motif”: “I love Ghibli and so I made it the motif for this work.”

    Ohh I see LA PUTA!

    Comment by Anonymous
    03:27 12/02/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    has anyone watched xam'd?

    in that case, wouldnt that be considered plagiarism?

    Avatar of knuclear200x
    Comment by knuclear200x
    05:53 12/02/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    The pic on the top right has some merit. its not better than the winner but its better than those high school drawings below

    Avatar of Zavalix
    Comment by Zavalix
    04:27 12/02/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    LOL, plagiarism?, well, should I remind you of the 80's huge robot boom?, everyone was (and still is) into it, almost most of the anime mechas resemblence one or more mechas from other series and it's NOT plagiarism isn't it?. Well, this is supposed to be art, an expression of her former self so I think the "plagiarism" doesn't exists as such in the common art (not "artist", watch it) way as long as you don't take an exact piece of art and present it as yours.

    Comment by Anonymous
    18:53 11/02/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    You know, there is a old saying: "So much shit on the internet, that someone could be plagiarizing someone and they would never even know it!"

    Avatar of cipher3
    Comment by cipher3
    19:31 11/02/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    but the artist knew laputa; “I love Ghibli and so I made it the motif for this work.”

    but it's more of a reference than a down right copy...

    Comment by Anonymous
    18:53 11/02/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    There is enough differences between this picture and the original subject matter to constitute fair use so doesn't violate copyright law.

    This kind of thing happens all the time where someone makes new art based on the subject matter from another piece of art. There are some very well known pieces of art that do this and some of those are less different then the original subject matter then this painting.

    She didn't deserve the award being taken away from her fo that.

    Comment by Anonymous
    19:03 11/02/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    I forgot to mention that a large proportion of art is based on something that exists like an object, creature/person, or another artistic work. Every one of the above pieces of art are based on something preexisting.

    An example (for people here) is anime characters. A schoolgirl in an anime is based on real schoolgirls. The wear school uniforms with skirts because the real schoolgirls in Japan do. What an artist does is take that and use their imagination to make that schoolgirl what they want them to look like.

    The robot that the artist made was based on the robots in Laputa. What she did is took that subject and used her imagination to make it how she wanted it to look like.

    Comment by Anonymous
    22:43 11/02/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Fair use? stop talking when you have NO IDEA what you are talking about.
    There is NOTHING fair use about this when she was attempting to written off as her creation in both product and idea. She even admitted she "copied" it, only little TOO MUCH you mean.

    Comment by Anonymous
    23:18 11/02/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Well, lets look at the 4 factors of Fair Use in the US.

    Purpose and character of the work: She made the art based on their work for the contest. She didn't simply trace the original and then add a moustache to it, she drew it on her own and added her own quirks. This will weigh in her favor or remain neutral.

    Nature of the copied work: Its a statue in the public domain. This will weigh in her favor because she made a drawing(or painting) or it and not an actual statue. If she made a sculpture this would be against her but she didn't sculpt anything.

    Amount and substantiality: She took something that you could probably find on a postcard and a large amount of the statue has been seen else where as well. Robot designs are not very original.

    Effect on the work's value: If anything it will increase its publicity because people will want to see what inspirired this girl to make her piece of art.
    A court probably would rule in favor of fair use on this one.

    Comment by Anonymous
    00:38 12/02/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Your so called factors are biased.

    Purpose and character of the work: Her purpose was to enter art contest and aim for a prize and a title. She did add her own texture and colors but there are too many characteristics of Laputa carried over. Again, her purpose was to win and show off as her work in public, nothing here works in her favor.

    Nature of the copied work: Laputa robot is a statue. While her work is in 2D medium the idea and distinguishable features carried over. Features such as ball shaped shoulders, long thin neck and segmented arms.

    Amount and substantiality: Laputa robot design being not so original has nothing to do with it. Close examination shows many of details being copied not just general shape of the robot. I'd say 80% of original was imported to this lady's work.

    Effect on the work's value: I agree it could possibly promote publicity of the original work but not because of "people will want to see what inspirired this girl to make her piece of art" She tried to pass off as her work, she only called it her inspiration after she was caught. She's lucky this contest was rather small in scale and importance thus minimizing the "effect". Increase in value of Laputa robot by publicity is only a result of unintended side effect. Her work has nothing of original in craftsmanship or idea prominent enough to call it an art.

    Comment by Anonymous
    18:42 11/02/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Wouldn't call it plagurism.

    Its just fanart, if they were so against it they shoulda mentioned "original pieces only" or something.

    Comment by Anonymous
    18:53 11/02/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    You know, in modern times where pretty much ALL types of creative characters have already been conceived, up to and including a fucking elf that wears a snake as a panty, is it even possible to make something "original" without accidentally plagiarizing something that already exists already?

    Comment by Anonymous
    19:10 11/02/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    There are over 6 billion people living in this planet. The chance any two of them sharing the same fingerprint is said to be 1 in 64 billion. The chance that any two of them are identical is zero.

    Art is about expressing yourself. If you can't express your individuality, despite nature having no problem making you unique among other billions of people, then simply be someone who draws, instead of calling yourself an artist.

    Comment by Anonymous
    22:44 11/02/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    "After being caught the woman innocently claimed she had merely used Laputa as a “motif”: “I love Ghibli and so I made it the motif for this work.”

    There is no "accidental plagiarizing" here.

    Comment by Anonymous
    23:27 11/02/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    If is allowed to be one of the modern times most influential artworks, a disabled woman is allowed to use a damn ghibli-character for a model... seems the clowns running the contest simply had no clue about art.

    Comment by Anonymous
    19:06 11/02/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    She would have kept the prize if she had painted a boulder or person in the same fashion.

    The subject of the art doesnt dictate whether or not the piece counts as art.

    Comment by Anonymous
    19:06 11/02/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Women and creativity...

    Yeah, right.

    Comment by Anonymous
    22:17 11/02/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    You're a retard.

    Comment by Anonymous
    23:31 11/02/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    ura faget

    Avatar of twin blades
    Comment by twin blades
    18:04 11/02/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Fuck the asshole who even mentioned the resemblance. I mean realy a disabled person go do some work pickin rice for me to eat and let people do there art. Bearly tell it's the fucking same jeez.

    Comment by Anonymous
    18:27 11/02/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    check your eyes,you probably wouldn't recognize it right away,but you have the freaking thing right under your nose,sorry,it is CLEARLY the same.

    yes,i don't give a damn if that person is disabled.

    and also:art? i'd like to see someone paint a freaking Disney character and put it on auction just to see how people will react to his "art",this is just copy.
    no matter how hard it was to do it.

    Comment by Anonymous
    20:53 11/02/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Then you should check out some paintings of Kaj Stenvall, because that is exactly what he does. And it's still considered art.

    Avatar of Tex_Arcana
    Comment by Tex_Arcana
    04:37 12/02/2010 # ! Neutral (0)


    Originality and quality are two separate things.

    Comment by Anonymous
    22:04 11/02/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    a dead dog paint in gold with some firecracker in the ass would be considered art so whatever...i guess :p

    Comment by Anonymous
    22:16 11/02/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    @ twin blades 18:04

    The first thing I thought when I saw the images was, "Oh, hey, it's one of the giant robots from that Miyazaki thing, that anime, what was its name? ..."

    @ Anon 18:29

    I give higher marks for originality than for execution (in the general case, not just disabled artists).

    Yes, little will be truly new, most things are influenced in various ways by others, but the degree of "influence"/"copying" is important.

    If she simply wanted to show off her mosaic technique, she could have picked a subject most people are unfamiliar with, i.e., many-years-dead U.S. President James Van Buren. *I* wouldn't recognize him in a mosaic painting (or shopping bag/milk carton 'missing person' photo).

    Avatar of Jack H. Humbert
    Comment by Jack H. Humbert
    17:30 11/02/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    I wouldn't call that plagiarism. You have to disallow any pictures of landscapes or existing people, too, in this case, because the artist just "copied" them

    Comment by Anonymous
    05:38 12/02/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    It was a "modern" art contest. The pictures must be like nothing you can possibly meet and induce headache in viewer to be considered art in this definition :)

    Avatar of tB
    Comment by tB
    17:29 11/02/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Not plagiarism.

    That's definitely more than 21 modifications to the original character design, which thereby makes it an original piece.

    Even if it WERE based off of Ghibli's robot thing, then it very well could be an homage to the animation that the artist saw it from.

    Perhaps she was so inspired by the movie she wanted to draw a robot thing for herself.

    I'm rather horrified by how the organizers stripped the award from her.

    Avatar of Ichiro Ino
    Comment by Ichiro Ino
    17:26 11/02/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    I feel sorry for her...

    I won't be surprised if she's Chinese though...

    Avatar of Domo-Kun
    Comment by Domo-Kun
    18:48 11/02/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Wait, why?

    Because the Japanese are racist and would make any excuse to take the prize away from a disabled Chinese woman?

    Or because you're racist and are implying that Chinese work is derivative?

    Comment by Anonymous
    19:13 11/02/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    You haven't read much sankaku, have you?

    Comment by Anonymous
    22:04 11/02/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    More like YOU haven't read much Sankaku. Or this even just this article.

    No chink will decline the prize.


    Comment by Anonymous
    17:52 11/02/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    "if she's Chinese though"
    that was mean :)
    She should simply tell it before that it is from Laputa so they could not say anything after they gave her the prize.

    Comment by Anonymous
    15:00 14/02/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Well, she was "disabled" in terms of Japanese standards. That's a good enough reason to accuse her of being Chinese

    Avatar of patamon
    Comment by patamon
    22:27 11/02/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    But the Chinese have been plagiarizing Japan quite a bit lately!

    Avatar of TehBoringOne
    Comment by TehBoringOne
    22:51 11/02/2010 # ! Neutral (0)


    It's been happening for many years now...

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