The Billion-Dollar Copyright Lawsuit That Could Legalize A New Kind Of Scam
Art Law

The Billion-Dollar Copyright Lawsuit That Could Legalize A New Kind Of Scam

Carol Highsmith’s Inner Tubing (2014) Could a copyright lawsuit involving a renowned photographer of American iconography enable a new kind of scam in which ne’er-do-wells send out threatening letters demanding licensing fees for public-domain works—and that those actions are both legal and unstoppable? It could, in the form of an unintentional side effect that has cropped up at the edges of copyright law. The case involves photographer Carol Highsmith, whose work you’d recognize even if you’ve never heard the name. Sometimes called "America’s photographer," she’s taken iconic photos of scenes from the White House to the saguaros in the Sonoran Desert to oversized roadside attractions. She was surprised to receive a letter in December 2015 from a company called License Compliance Services on behalf of the photo-licensing agency Alamay demanding that she pay a licensing fee for the use, on her foundation’s website, of one of her own works. The surprise was twofold: Not just that it was her photograph, but also that, since she’d turned over her photographs for free use by the public years before, to her mind, nobody could charge for them, much less insist on a license. Highsmith had dedicated her work to the public […]

Tags

OrangeniusInc Tweets