BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: World: Americas
Front Page 
Middle East 
South Asia 
From Our Own Correspondent 
Letter From America 
UK Politics 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

The BBC's Jon Leyne
"The photographer had time to shoot just two frames"
 real 28k

Monday, 7 August, 2000, 20:37 GMT 21:37 UK
Che Guevara photographer sues
Alberto Korda looks at his famous photo on a portable computer
Alberto Korda still has the original negatives
The photographer who took the legendary shot of Cuban revolutionary Che Guevara is suing the promoters of Smirnoff vodka for using the image in an advertising campaign.

The photograph, taken in 1960, has been used on T-shirts, banners and posters across the world.

Ernesto Che Guevara
Alberto Korda says copyright of the 1960 picture belongs to him
But now the photographer is claiming copyright on the picture.

Alberto Diaz Gutierrez, who uses the name Alberto Korda, said using the revolutionary to promote vodka was offensive.

"To use the image of Che Guevara to sell vodka is a slur on his name and memory," he told the UK's Guardian newspaper.

"He never drank himself, he was not a drunk, and drink should not be associated with his immortal memory."

He said Che Guevara, as an anti-capitalist, would not have approved of Smirnoff vodka, which is owned by UK food and beverage firm Diageo Group plc.

'Steely defiance'

The 71-one-year-old photographer, who still lives in Cuba, is suing advertising agency Lowe Lintas, and Rex Features, the company that supplied the photograph.

Mr Korda still has the photograph's negative and the camera that took it.

Poster of Che Guevara, depicted as Jesus Christ
The image has already been used to promote church-going
In a claim filed in London's High Court, Mr Korda said the advertising campaign trivialised the photo's historical significance.

Mr Korda took the photograph for a Cuban newspaper on 5 March 1960, at a memorial service in Havana.

"I saw him step forward with this absolute look of steely defiance as Fidel (Castro) spoke," he told the Guardian. "It was only a brief moment that I had.

"I managed to shoot two frames and then he was gone."

Cuban leader Fidel Castro
Fidel Castro: Fellow revolutionary
Che Guevara was a key figure in Cuba's 1959 revolution alongside Fidel Castro, who still rules the country.

When Che Guevara was killed by the Bolivian army in October 1967, he was hailed a martyr to the revolution.

The photo been a rallying image in student revolts ever since.

Mr Korda said he may travel to London for the case, which is expected to be heard in September.

There has been no comment from Lowe Lintas and Rex Features.

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console
See also:

01 Jan 99 | Americas
Castro: The great survivor
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Americas stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Americas stories