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View Full Version : Could a Photographer's Ownership be Overturned ?



Steaphany
29-Oct-2009, 04:31
This link was just posted in a discussion on another forum that I'm on and since I have prints of some of my photography for sale on Imagekind, I couldn't help but wonder if some publisher could file legal action against a photographer to take ownership and put the photographer out of business.

Imitator Sues Artist to Overturn Copyright on Sculptural Art (http://www.johntunger.com/legal-defense-fund.html#1)

I know the US copyright law states that the creator possesses a copyright by simply producing a work, regardless of filing an official copyright or even simply labelling the work with the traditional symbol and including their name and date of creation. With my own photography, I limit access to printable image sizes, but have not thought any more regarding securing an official copyright.

The problem that the court case described on this link is that it sounds like anyone desiring to use a work for their own profit is legally capable of overturning even a filed and secured copyright. We've all heard of cases where photography was stolen and used without permission of the photographer, but this seems to be on a whole other scale. I do realize that the case described pertains to sculptural art, but when things are brought in court, would the form even matter ?

bdkphoto
29-Oct-2009, 07:05
This link was just posted in a discussion on another forum that I'm on and since I have prints of some of my photography for sale on Imagekind, I couldn't help but wonder if some publisher could file legal action against a photographer to take ownership and put the photographer out of business.

Imitator Sues Artist to Overturn Copyright on Sculptural Art (http://www.johntunger.com/legal-defense-fund.html#1)

I know the US copyright law states that the creator possesses a copyright by simply producing a work, regardless of filing an official copyright or even simply labelling the work with the traditional symbol and including their name and date of creation. With my own photography, I limit access to printable image sizes, but have not thought any more regarding securing an official copyright.

The problem that the court case described on this link is that it sounds like anyone desiring to use a work for their own profit is legally capable of overturning even a filed and secured copyright. We've all heard of cases where photography was stolen and used without permission of the photographer, but this seems to be on a whole other scale. I do realize that the case described pertains to sculptural art, but when things are brought in court, would the form even matter ?


This case should have no real bearing on photographers who register their work properly. If you are interested in protecting your own work it should be registered with the LOC copyright office. It is the ONLY way you will be able to litigate if needed and will afford you the ability to recoup legal fees and damages from an infringer.

Brian_A
29-Oct-2009, 07:13
Well, I suppose he's set legally since he's at 140% of the pledges he requires. It sucks, but I agree with the chatter down below that he should go after the distributors.

That whole situation would suck though. I would imagine all he would have to do is show up with copies of his copyright and photos of this other guys work to show he copied them. I'm sure it's much more in depth than that, but still, I don't think he'd absolutely positively have to have a lawyer. On the flip side, if the guy changed it by a little bit I'm sure the judge would say it isn't exactly the same. What about those outdoor fire pits you've been able to buy in Walmart and Home Depot/Lowes for a long long time? Can they sue him for stealing the idea? All he did was put fancy edges on it.

Anyways, I hope the other guy gets taken. I'd hate to see the artist lose in this situation.

Kirk Gittings
29-Oct-2009, 10:07
On a related note. I understand that Adobe is working on a plugin for Lightroom that will allow for Copyright filing via just a couple of clicks on the computer!

r.e.
29-Oct-2009, 10:41
The problem that the court case described on this link is that it sounds like anyone desiring to use a work for their own profit is legally capable of overturning even a filed and secured copyright.

You are overstating what is happening. The person who started the suit is arguing that the firepits in question are not copyrightable because they aren't art. That's all. It will be up the the court to decide whether he is right or not.

Personally, I think that he may succeed. Calling this stuff art strikes me as a bit of a stretch, and I think that there is an argument that the defendant is attempting to abuse copyright law in an attempt to stymie competition in the market for yuppie firepits :)

In any event, nothing has been decided. The guy who started the suit did so because the defendant had his lawyer send him a cease and desist letter in an effort to close him down. This lawsuit is the next step in resolving their dispute, not abnormal at all.

Anyway, if I'm going to get exercised about intellectual property rights, it isn't going to be over firepits made out of spent propane tanks.

r_a_feldman
29-Oct-2009, 11:15
To bring the discussion back to photography copyrights, was Shepard Fairey’s use of one of Mannie Garcia’s photographs of Obama for his “Hope” poster fair use or copyright infringement (ignoring the fact that Fairey lied about which photo he used to create his poster)? For reference, see http://dailyjournalonline.com/articles/2009/10/28/news/doc4ada1bf1c1166535270715.txt

Fairey did alter the photograph by collapsing the contrast, posterizing it, altering the colors, and removing the background. However, I’m not sure that this “photoshoping” of the image was sufficiently different to be fair use. I think it also doesn’t sufficiently alter the purpose of the image, as would, for example, using Ansel’s “Moonrise” and pasting an image of soneone’s rear end over the moon. The latter has altered the image less, but repurposed it for satire.

What do others think?

Bob

r.e.
29-Oct-2009, 11:45
Then there's the ongoing soap opera involving multimillionaire artist Damien Hirst and a teenage grafitti artist known as Cartrain:

http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/art/news/damien-hirst-in-vicious-feud-with-teenage-artist-over-a-box-of-pencils-1781463.html

http://www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/jonathanjonesblog/2009/sep/15/damien-hirst-portrait-cartrain

http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/art/news/hirst-demands-share-of-artists-16365-copies-1054424.html

The Hirst/Cartrain saga has the merit of being entertaining.

Paul Kierstead
30-Oct-2009, 13:49
The artist claims "I did not initiate this lawsuit" which is somewhat disingenuous; he may not have filed first, but sending a cease and desist is signalling an intent to file and most certainly would be considered initiating the legal action, if not the precise lawsuit. I find that bit of dancing to be disturbing for someone who claims to be so honest.

OTOH, he may very well have a point. I think some large photographs from multiple angles of the originals and the copies would go a long way to swaying me; without even that it very much comes down to a he-said she-said kind of deal.