Escape Rentals apologise to artist Shane Hansen for breaching copyright

A campervan rentals company who painted five of their vehicles using images from a well-known Māori artist made a public apology on their website for breaching copyright, and the artists' moral rights. Shane Hansen of Ngāti Hine and Ngāti Mahanga filed a suit against Escape Rentals in 2017 seeking a public apology after he discovered they'd copied his artwork without permission on to their rental cars.

"When a commercial company goes and uses it first without asking if they can without any permission, and secondly just treating it with a lot of disrespect that's really not good and particularly as a Māori artist it's part of my essence, my mauri," says Hansen.

The Tutukaka-based artist told Kawekōrero the whole ordeal has been draining both financially and emotionally. In the apology, Escape Rentals acknowledges that it breached Shane Hansen's copyright and recognises it has shown a lack of respect to Shane Hansen's mana and mauri and breached his moral rights. It further went on to say the company admits its conduct was unlawful and wrong, and that its actions have caused Shane Hansen considerable distress and anxiety and it apologises for what it has done.

Hansen welcomed the apology and wants to set an example for other artists that there are ways to get justice.

"I have legitimate companies that pay me royalties and pay licensing fees to use my artwork in very respectful ways and so I can't let something like this happen without defending that and making sure it doesn't happen again."

Hansen has a Māori, Danish, Chinse, Scottish whakapapa and incorporates much of his background and identity into work. While he's experienced forms of copyright issues before, he says never has it been to the scale seen by Escape Rentals 

"Artists, we do things because they're part of who we are and I saw what they did as identity theft in a way because this is who I am."