Wal-mart Sues Photographer’s Widow Claiming Copyright to Decades of Portraits of Walton Family

Wal-mart Stores Inc. and the Walton family, which owns the company, have filed suit to force the widow of an Arkansas portrait photographer to hand over all prints, negatives and proofs of Walton family members made between 1950 and 1994, Professional Photographers of America (PPA) and the Arkansas Times reports. The widow, who reportedly had refused an offer of $2,000 for the pictures, has counter-sued, claiming she owns the copyright.

The Walton family is claiming the photographs belong to them because Bob’s Studio of Photography in Fayetteville made the portraits under the Walton family’s “supervision.” The Walton family says in its lawsuit that the portrait studio stored the photographs as a courtesy, according to the PPA and Arkansas Times reports. More than 200 photographs are in dispute, the reports say.

David Huff and his father, Robert A. Huff, owned Bob’s Studio of Photography. Both are now deceased.

The defendant in the case is Helen B. M. Huff, widow of David Huff. She is countersuing on the grounds that she owns copyright to the photographs because her late husband and his father shot the photographs as private contractors, using their own equipment. She is seeking an injunction against the Walton family and Wal-mart to force them to stop using the photographs without her permission.

A court date is set for July 7.

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5 Responses to “Wal-mart Sues Photographer’s Widow Claiming Copyright to Decades of Portraits of Walton Family”

  1. Marv Morris Says:

    YEA for the little guys/gals! Go get em’ Helen

  2. Arnold L Kaye Says:

    So. . . in my opinion, Wal-Mart recognizes that the photographer is entitled to money; the question is how much. Otherwise, they would not have offered anything and just asked for the property that was theirs. In my opinion, Wal-Mart gives nothing away!

    Will this matter continue to be followed so that we can learn the legal principles on which this is finally settled?

  3. Markthetog Says:

    I wonder why they decide to claim ownership now when they had over 60 years to wonder why the negs had not been delivered with the prints?

    The issue is copyright. They are claiming it was ALL work for hire and thus their property.
    They are wrong (unless there is a contract not mentioned in the article).
    They are trying to bully a small businessperson as they always do. They have a very aggressive legal team and the resources to pursue such frivolous actions.

  4. LSKOOG Says:

    “The six Walmart heirs now have more wealth than the bottom 42 percent of Americans combined, up from 30 percent in 2007. Between 2007 and 2010, the collective wealth of the six richest Waltons rose from $73 billion to $90 billion, while the wealth of the average American declined from $126,000 to $77,000 (13 million Americans have negative net worth)”

    And they are suing the widow of the local portrait photographer? No shame!

  5. Maker, Trouble Says:

    someone please start
    “sneak shots inside Walmarts”
    (emphasizing clutter & messiness)
    cloud photo albums on facebook, flickr, etc.