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Croatia pulls design for €1 coin after plagiarism allegations

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By Joshua Berlinger
The designer of this 1 euro coin was accused of stealing the design from a photograph from Photographer Iain Leach.
The designer of this 1 euro coin was accused of stealing the design from a photograph from Photographer Iain Leach.   -   Copyright  Croatian National Bank/Iain Leach

The Croatian National Bank has scrapped a design for a proposed €1 coin after allegations surfaced that its designer plagiarised the image.

The coin is one of four designs that was selected to be minted to celebrate Croatia joining the eurozone next year.

The back of the coin featured a pine marten, a small, weasel-like mammal. Croatia's current currency, the kuna, is named after the animal found on the heraldic symbol of Slavonija.

The kuna was used as currency in the region as early as the 13th century. The marten ended up on the money as a reference to the Ancient Greek cities, which often had animals on their coins.

Prior to that, the medieval Kingdom of Hungary collected a tax in marten's furs, or marturina, in its territories south of the river Drava, making the marten an animal of great perceived value.

Savjet HNB-a donio je, na prijedlog Komisije za novac, Odluku o konačnom odabiru najuspješnijeg dizajna nacionalne...

Posted by Hrvatska narodna banka on Friday, February 4, 2022

Four winners were announced on Friday, including Stjepan Pranjković for his design of a marten. Croatian social media sleuths noticed that Pranjković's design was very similar to a photograph of the animal by Scottish photographer Iain Leach.

Leach told Euronews in an email that he first heard about the incident from people in Croatia and was "amazed at how quickly people realised that my photo had been copied."

"I wouldn’t have known anything about it," Leach said.

Courtesy Iain Leach
Iain Leach's original photograph of a marten was allegedly copied by the designer.Courtesy Iain Leach

The Croatian National Bank said in a statement that Pranjković on Sunday withdrew his draft and renounced all rights to it. While the statement did not mention why Pranjković pulled his design, it noted that "authors participating in the tender were required to submit a written guarantee confirming that their work was an original intellectual creation made exclusively for the purpose of the tender."

"I wasn’t asked by the designer for permission to use the photo so I was surprised to see it as the winning design," Leach said. "I think the designer did the right thing to withdraw the design after so much adverse publicity. I am sure designers who read about this will be more careful about copying someone else's photo without asking permission."

The bank said it will launch a new tender process for a coin bearing the marten.