Vivian Maier’s Portfolio Faces Uncertain Future As Her Estate Enters Complicated Legal Battle

Vivian Maier...A Life Uncovered by Thomas Leuthard

Vivian Maier…A Life Uncovered by Thomas Leuthard

A state public administrator’s office in Chicago, Illinois has issued letters to several individuals in possession of Vivian Maier photographs and negatives, informing them of possible lawsuits they could be facing over any money they earned from selling Maier’s work. Among the recipients of the letter were several galleries and John Maloof, an individual who owns a lionshare of original Maier works with a collection of negatives in the tens of thousands, which he bought for $400.

When Maloof acquired the negatives in 2007, he hired a genealogist to help track down any heirs of the mysterious photographer. He was able to locate Sylvain Jaussaud, whom was considered by experts to be Maeirs closest living heir as a first cousin once removed. Maloof and Jaussaud reached an undisclosed agreement in which Maloof would assume the rights to the negatives. Maloof then filed an application to register his copyright, which is currently still pending one year after being filed. [Read more...]

US Copyright Office: Photos Taken by Animals Have No Copyright. Nor Do Photos Taken by God.

Two weeks ago, the story of the selfie-taking monkey gave me what I had thought was the best article title I was ever going to get to right. I was wrong. This is the best article title that I’ve ever gotten to write.

For those who missed it, around the beginning of this month Wikipedia was caught in a bit of controversy for its ruling on photographs taken by a monkey with photographer David Slater’s camera, saying that Slater had no copyright to them since he wasn’t their photographer. In a update to the story equally as bizarre as the story itself, the US Copyright Office released a 1,222-page document establishing new policies and reaffirming existent stances set on copyright law; touching on the subject at hand, the Office basically said that a picture taken by a monkey is unclaimed intellectual property.

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Wikimedia: Because the Monkey Pressed the Shutter, It Owns the Picture

The two pictures above were taken by British nature photographer David Slater in 2011, when a black macaque walked over to him and hijacked his camera, proceeding to take numerous amounts of selfies. With the pictures going viral, they found themselves on Wikimedia’s Commons page, where they’ve been available as public domain. The problem? When David Slater requested the pictures be taken down, Wikimedia refused – the reason being that because it was the animal pressing the shutter, the photo didn’t actually belong to him.

It’s safe to say that Wikimedia might be going a bit bananas (I’m sorry.) here, because what they’re basically saying is that since the monkey took the picture, it owns the copyright.

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Can I Use That Picture? This Flowchart Helps You Demystify Copyright Law

UPDATE: the chart was wrong in in more than one way, we took it down. You can still see the original link in the article, but I do not suggest following its advice, you can read more about it here.

There is a lot of confusion surrounding copyright law and when it’s okay or not okay to use photographs that are not your own. Fortunately, Curtis Newbold, AKA The Visual Communications Guy, created this handy flowchart to help you assess when, why, and where you can use certain photographs. If you find yourself frequently questioning the legality (or morality) of resharing an awesome photo you came across on the internet, you may want to bookmark the chart for quick access.

The flowchart  (click here for a big version) makes it easy to understand the differences between Copyright, Fair Use, Creative Commons, and Public Domain–four topics which are often the source of great confusion.  On the flipside of things, the chart may also be useful to photographers who wonder about their own photographs and the purposed in which others may redistribute them.

[ The Visual Communications Guy via PetaPixel, lifehacker]

Walmart’s Latest Classless Move: Suing a Photographer’s Widowed Wife

Picture taken from Walmart Corporate on Flickr.

Picture taken from Walmart Corporate on Flickr.

It’s amazing how perfect the narrative of this story is; Americans love suing, and who not better to be the plaintiff than one of our country’s biggest corporations? Walmart, a company that builds breeding grounds for American stereotypes (and supermarkets), is filing a lawsuit against the wife of a now-deceased photographer. What’s the dispute? They want the rights to photographs taken by the late husband and his father of the Walton family themselves.

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Amazon’s New Patent: Why We Should Probably Chill Out

amazon-seamless-white

There’s been news circulating around of a new patent Amazon’s recently secured itself with, and it sounds a bit ridiculous when you take a look at the headlines coming out. For those who don’t know, Amazon basically patented a type of photography where one light is shining straight at the subject, along with light completely filling the background; in other words, seamless white background photography.

The patent was granted back in March, but news of this made the rounds just yesterday, angering many voices in the online photography community. The good news, however, is that there might not be that much cause for concern in the first place.

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Tour Manager for Three Days Grace Speaks Out On Concert Photography

Screen Shot 2014-04-23 at 8.20.26 AM

Two days ago, controversy was bred after a clash over social media between photographer Rohan Anderson and the pop-punk band Red Jumpsuit Apparatus; the band began a crusade of defamation against Rohan after being called out for posting his picture up without permission or credit. In return, Rohan sparked a wave of protest from the online community by posting the entire story online, and publicity for The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus expectedly took a plunge.

Now that the story’s been gaining widespread coverage over the online photography and music community, the tour manager for the band Three Days Grace decided to weigh in on the topic.

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Online Magazine Got Caught Stealing a Photo, and Responded in the Worst Way Possible

The email sent from Survival.

With how fast social media is growing, there’s an equal amount of increase in copyright conflicts as well; photography comes into the picture. In this day and age, it’s insanely easy to remove whatever watermarks you want from a photo, post it on a publication as your own work, and reap the benefits of whoever originally took the photo in the first place. Hey, it’s easy money, isn’t it? Especially if the photographer’s not some well known big-shot with clients working under their name and about 16,000 followers on their Instagram account. Most likely, they’ll barely notice that their photo was even found and posted by someone out there like that.

Fortunately, one good thing about the photography world is that no matter how well known one is, a photographer with a loyal following will always have people looking out for them. Kathy Shea Mormino is one of them, and she just found herself in some serious East-versus-West Coast style beef with a magazine publication over use of her work (Except without the rap battles. But that would have been awesome.) It started off as a simple matter of notifying the publisher and making a cease and desist. Then, for some bizarre reason, the magazine decided to respond in one of the most unprofessional ways you’ll ever see an online publication behave. Thanks to the guys over at Adweek for the information on the story.

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Why Registering Your Copyright Matters

Copyright infringement is one of those problems that never seems to go away. It doesn’t seem to matter how well we educate our clients or the general public. Unfortunately, there will always be people–photographers included– who just don’t seem to get it. Clients think that purchasing a photo grants them eternal, all-encompassing rights to whatever they choose to do with our work, wherever they choose to do it. People have it in their heads that just because a photo shows up in a Google Images search, that this somehow makes it open season for use on their websites, newsletters, blogs, and Facebook posts

As photographers, we know that we need to protect our work from all of these varying degrees of infringement. Unfortunately, too many photographers don’t take the relatively easy steps to adequately protect themselves from the unauthorized use of their hard work.

why-copyright-registration-matters

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