Xiaomi has admitted to using an artist’s work without their permission to promote its products and says it’s fired the employee responsible.
Last night, we reported that Xiaomi’s Spanish website used elements from three creations by 3D artist Peter Tarka. Tarka said he was “100 percent sure” Xiaomi had used his work, and the elements appeared to line up quite clearly. Now the company is pinning the blame on a single employee and saying the incident is due to “lapses in our approval process.”
Xiaomi says it will strengthen its internal processes for approving art “to prevent this from happening again,” and that it’s reached out to Tarka to apologize. Tarka’s work has since been removed from Xiaomi’s website.
Tarka made a GIF showing how elements from three pieces of his work came together to form Xiaomi’s ad. The main structure has only been slightly changed, and a chair and a hanging light from two other pieces of his have been added around it:
Making this worse, two of those pieces — from which the chair and light were taken — were from works Tarka made under commission for LG, one of Xiaomi’s smartphone competitors.
While there haven’t been incidents this blatant before, Xiaomi has a history of bluntly cloning others’ work. Earlier this year, it recreated Apple’s default macOS wallpaper alongside a feature that shifted the image between day and night. Its 2017 MacBook Pro competitor looked almost identical to a MacBook Pro. And its stores have clean white walls, even lighting, and wooden display tables, like an Apple store.
Xiaomi’s full statement is below:
After investigating artist Peter Tarka’s comments on the misuse of his artwork on Xiaomi Spain’s website, Xiaomi has determined that a designer used Peter Tarka’s design without permission. Xiaomi has removed the content from our website and decided to dismiss this employee with immediate effect. We sincerely apologize to Peter Tarka, and for the lapses in our approval process. The employee’s actions go against our company values of respecting intellectual property, and we will further strengthen our internal approval processes to prevent this from happening again. We’ve reached out to Peter Tarka to express our apology.