Legal battles continue over ownership of Vivian Maier’s work

The legal case to determine whether Mr. Baille is Maier’s closest relative has now set in motion a process that Chicago officials say could take years and could result in Maier’s works’ being pulled from gallery inventories and museum shows until a determination is made.”
The Heir’s Not Apparent, New York Times

I wrote about the legal issues surrounding the rightful heir and owner of Vivian Maier‘s substantial body of work last year. The New York Times just published an overview of where the subject stands now, detailing a legal case filed in June 2014 which might force John Maloof and other owners of Maier’s negatives to cease publications and exhibitions of the work. In short, Virginia lawyer David C. Deal, himself a former photographer, thought that something wasn’t right in the way Maier’s copyright had been handled and searched for relatives of the nanny.

Screenshot of VivianMaier.com, the John Maloof collection
Screenshot of VivianMaier.com, the John Maloof collection

Maloof, owner of the largest collection of Maier’s negatives and prints (and producer and director of Finding Vivian Maier and countless exhibitions), had previously found a person in France who he’d thought was Maier’s closest living relative and agreed on an undisclosed settlement for the rights to the work. Deal believes he has found a closer relative of Maier’s, again in France, and now represents that person in a court case to determine whether or not he is the photographer’s closest heir. It’s a tangled case that will likely take years, but at the heart is a copyright issue.

The Vivian Maier industry (in the form of books, exhibitions, prints for sale, movies, television programs, and so on) is already worth millions of dollars. If this new possible heir is determined to be the rightful owner of the copyright, it could lead to substantial copyright infringement claims relating to most every instance of Vivian Maier’s work that has been seen in public. According to the New York Times, the state public administrator’s office in Cook County, Illinois, created an estate for Vivian Maier in July and warned Maloof and others selling the work that there may be future lawsuits over Maier’s work.

Hyperallergic also recently published a couple of articles regarding the legal issues surrounding Vivian Maier’s archive that are worth a read: Making Sense of the Legal Battle Over Vivian Maier’s Artworks and A Vivian Maier Collector Opens Up About Posthumous Printing, Maier’s Only Heir, and Her Legacy.

Journalist blames inexperienced photographer in Steven Sotloff kidnapping

Though he admitted to me that he had never worked in conflict, [Yves Choquette] was quick to add that he had photographed student protests in Montreal. Now he had come to Kilis intending to enter the world’s deadliest war zone”

-Ben Taub, The Daily Beast

Late last week, the Daily Beast published a piece by Ben Taub titled “Was U.S. Journalist Steven Sotloff a Marked Man?” In the article, Taub describes the actions of a freelance journalist (named “Alex” for the article, but later revealed to be Montreal photographer Yves Choquette) who he says compromised the identity of his fixer on the Syria/Turkey border and led to the kidnapping of Sotloff. Taub alleges that the photographer was reckless in his attempts to enter Syria, randomly searching Facebook for people with opposition flags in their profiles to take him across the border. He told these people the name of the fixer he was using, and a few days later Sotloff and that fixer were abducted just over the Syrian border. Choquette did not enter Syria after hearing other warnings, including that militants in Syria knew his location, nationality, and details of his plans to enter the country.

Choquette outed himself in an interview with the Globe and Mail in which he disputes the allegations of inexperience and recklessness. CBCNews also has coverage.

Sotloff remains in captivity, presumably in Syria, after he was seen in the James Foley execution video. The Wire has collected a few links to stories about Sotloff including remembrances by friends who knew him in college.

Remembering James Foley, part 2

RememberingJim.org
RememberingJim.org

The day after James Foley’s tragic death, we collected a number of remembrances written by friends and colleagues.  Many more have been published since the news first came out, and we thought it’d be good to link to those here.

Since Foley’s death, there has been much written about freelancers covering war, government response to kidnapping, what was and can be done to save Foley and others held captive in Syria and elsewhere, the dangers faced by local journalists, and what it means to publish gruesome images released by organizations with agendas. It’s impossible to link to them all, but here are a few that I’ve found interesting:

  1. James Foley’s Killing Highlights Debate Over Ransom
  2. James Foley’s killers pose many threats to local, international journalists
  3. James Foley’s Choices
  4. The Men Who Killed James Foley
  5. Should Twitter Have Taken Down the James Foley Video?
  6. James Foley Among Many Young, Close-Knit Freelance War Reporters
  7. James Foley is a reminder why freelance reporting is so dangerous
  8. James Foley and fellow freelancers: exploited by pared-back media outlets
  9. Did New York tabloids go too far by printing gruesome images of James Foley’s execution?
  10. How to Take a Picture of a Severed Head [← This one was published before news of Foley's killing but fits in line with the discussion of publishing images released by terrorist organizations, governments, etc.]

Meanwhile, over the weekend, tremendous news arrived that Peter Theo Curtis, a journalist missing since 2012, had been released. He was apparently held by an Al Qaeda affiliate there after his abduction from Turkey near the Syrian Border.

Steven Sotloff, the other American journalist seen in the Foley execution video, remains in peril. The Committee to Protect Journalists notes that 69 journalists have been killed since 2012, and an estimated 20 journalists, primarily Syrian, are presumed missing there.