Re: copyright/Walker Evans/'FSA

From: John Ptak ^lt;[email protected]>
Date: 03/30/05-10:04:01 AM Z
Message-id: <000901c53542$1716a1c0$6101a8c0@johnwe1gpx6f3s>

Regarding Walker Evans (and the other 12 (?) FSA Historical Section folks,
the WPA photographers, and so on): my understanding is that there is no
copyright for any of the work paid for by the US government, and that work
done on the government dime is the government's/Peoples' property (except if
you're RM Nixon and a few other (and one sitting) presidents). Now,
without weighing in philosophically, I don't know why it was that
Walker/Lee/Lange/Russell and so on were able to sell these government works
for their own profit. I'm not saying necessarily that Lange shouldn't have
made her life more easy or made it easier for her to produce more great
works by selling her Mona Lisa image of the Migrant Mother--it just gets
sticky when copyright and use comes into contact with works paid for by the
US government. I guess that I should know if the FSA folks signed a special
use agreement with Stryker or whomever, but I don't, and I would be
interested to know this bit if anyone out there knows this history.

(Incidentally, by my calculation, it seems that the government paid about 2
[1940] dollars for every photograph produced by the Historical Section of
the FSA. Not a bad return on investment--even considering the Depression).

John Ptak
----- Original Message -----
From: "Jack Fulton" <>
To: <>
Sent: Wednesday, March 30, 2005 9:05 AM
Subject: Re: copyright

> Of course, as we well know, it "depends" upon the situation.
> Not too long ago, a few years now, my local museum purchaaed works by
> Sherry Levine that were exact dupes of work by Walker Evans. I believe
> they paid more for the Levine than they would have for the original Evans.
> Howz dat fer peanuts?
> On the other hand, it is one more example of living in a society crazed by
> the joy of litigation so as to have one's "rights" preserved.
> Jack
> On Mar 30, 2005, at 4:54 AM, STUART GOLDSTEIN wrote:
>> I'm not a copyright attorney and I don't mean to
>> portray one on the web......but
>> I think that the infringement would occur if the
>> publisher photographed the drawings/renderings that
>> Christos and Jean-Claude made to raise money for the
>> project, used them but didn't get permission.
>> To be clearer, I go to a museum show of Cindy
>> Sherman's works. I take a photo of one of the images
>> cropping out everythng but the image area. I then
>> publish the image. If I hadn't gotten permission to
>> use the image from Cindy Sherman (or her reps), I
>> better get a superduper lawyer. That or win the
>> lottery to pay for the copyright infringement.
>> Stuart
>> --- Barry Kleider <> wrote:
>>> Gerry,
>>> It's not even a grey area. He's completely within
>>> his rights - as best I
>>> understand copyright law.
>>> For one thing, you're not looking at The Gates /per
>>> se/ - you're looking
>>> at */his photographs of The Gates/ *- a hugely
>>> important distinction.
>>> (Different medium, includes people, shows the site,
>>> etc.) All of which
>>> may have been intended in the Gates project, but are
>>> not a direct part
>>> of it in the same way they are part of his images.
>>> He would argue this
>>> is his unique take on what he saw on that afternoon.
>>> It's very different from making a bootleg copy of
>>> the Sponge Bob movie
>>> and showing it for $$$ in your living room. Reason
>>> being the Sponge Bob
>>> movie would be an exact dupe. And even if he were to
>>> insert his images
>>> into the Sponge Bob movie, it would likely be
>>> considered an infringement
>>> of fair use because he would be showing the movie in
>>> it's entirety
>>> rather than an excerpt.
>>> The difference between a newspaper and a magazine
>>> is not relevant -
>>> both are for profit. Tim would also say he is
>>> providing a news source
>>> for photographers. You can decide not to buy his
>>> magazine, and the
>>> advertisers can decide not to buy ads if they don't
>>> think it's a good
>>> investment.
>>> Most importantly, the images are his. He can print
>>> them where and when
>>> he wishes.
>>> Cheers,
>>> Barry
>>> Gerry Giliberti wrote:
>>>> You've asked a lot of questions and I'm not sure
>>> if I can answer them
>>>> all. The photos are the publishers (Tim Anderson).
>>> He shot them. You
>>>> can view the photos on the website
>>> He has copy written
>>>> the images so they are his.
>>>> The reason I questioned why he printed them
>>> without permission (and
>>>> that is the key here) was that I was under the
>>> impression that this
>>>> was a work of art be it public or not, in the same
>>> sense as, for
>>>> example, a movie. You can use it for you own
>>> enjoyment but if you
>>>> invite people over your house and play it and
>>> charge them money,
>>>> that's copyright infringement. (His publication is
>>> not a newspaper.
>>>> He makes money when people come to view
>>> photographic art and use his
>>>> advertisers.) I was just wondering how this type
>>> of art can be
>>>> photographed and used to generate income without
>>> the artist's
>>>> permission. This Gates thing seems like it falls
>>> into a gray area
>>>> where copyright is concerned.
>>>> Gerry G
>>>> "If you can't imitate him, don't copy him." Yogi
>>> Berra
>>>> -----Original Message-----
>>>> *From:* Barry Kleider
>>> []
>>>> *Sent:* Tuesday, March 29, 2005 9:49 AM
>>>> *To:*
>>>> *Subject:* offlist copyright
>>>> Gerry,
>>>> Could you provide a few more details for us?
>>>> For instance, I'd like to see the images in
>>> question.
>>>> I'd also like to know:
>>>> Does he own the images?
>>>> (If so, why are you questioning the decision
>>> to print them?)
>>>> Does publication also include attribution?
>>>> Who is the photographer, and how does he/she
>>> feel about this
>>>> situation?
>>>> Tim sounds a bit cold about the matter, but
>>> he's essentially right:
>>>> if he owns the image (assuming no one else
>>> holds the copyrights)
>>>> if it was shot on public land
>>>> if the image is used as part of a news item
>>>> it would likely be considered "fair use."
>>>> He's also right in saying that it sometimes
>>> gets dicey.
>>>> It would be courtesy for Tim to include the
>>> photographer's name on
>>>> publication.
>>>> (I used to work for a newspaper, and we ran
>>> into this sort of
>>>> thing sometimes. If you need to talk to a
>>> lawyer about it, I can
>>>> give you the name of the guy we used. Mark
>>> Anfinson represented
>>>> the Minnesota Newspaper Association for a very
>>> long time and knows
>>>> media law. I haven't talked to him in several
>>> years, but feel free
>>>> to drop my name. Mark is a great guy and he
>>> can help you sort it
>>>> out fairly quickly. His number is
>>> 612.827.5611)
>>>> Regards,
>>>> Barry Kleider
>> __________________________________________________
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Received on Wed Mar 30 10:04:36 2005

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