Ansel Adams Trust Sues Guy Claiming To Have Found Long Lost Adams' Negatives For Selling Prints
from the copyright-or-trademark? dept
Either way, it appears that Norsigian has barged forward with a plan to sell prints from the negatives, and reader Tom sends over the news that the Ansel Adams Publishing Rights Trust is now suing him for it. While I haven't seen the actual lawsuit, the reporting on it notes that it covers: "trademark infringement, false advertising, trademark dilution, unfair competition and other claims." Missing from the list? Copyright. Making a copyright claim would be tantamount to admitting that they believed the images were legit. The Trust does make an argument that could leave it open to a copyright claim down the road, should the negatives be declared from Adams', but it may somewhat undermine their own argument in that:
The lawsuit further says that even if they were Adams' negatives, the prints and posters being created from them aren't the photographer's works, "but are derivative works at best."While derivative works can be infringing, by saying they're "derivative at best," you could make an argument that such prints are fair use transformative works, rather than copies -- though it might not fly.
"Mr. Adams was fond of likening a negative to a composer's score and the prints to its performance -- each performance differs in subtle ways," the lawsuit said. "The photographic prints and posters offered for sale by defendants ... are not an Ansel Adams 'performance.' "
Either way, I can't see any legal way that Norsigian can sell these prints: if they're not Adams', then calling them Adams' opens himself up to all those charges in the case, with false advertising being a big one. If they actually are Adams' negatives, then he has no copyright on them and again should not be able to sell them.