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October 29th, 2012

PPE 2012: On Making Compelling Portraits

In the seminar “The Art and Business of Portraiture,” held during PhotoPlus Expo, portrait photographers Lydia Panas, Chris Buck, and Charlotte Dumas showed their work, primarily focusing on their fine art images, and described how they interact with their subjects to make compelling portraits. Gallerist Michael Foley of the Foley Gallery in New York moderated the discussion.

Panas, a fine artist whose portraits reveal much about character and relationships, showed work from her Mark of Abel and Falling from Grace projects. She explained that she doesn’t direct her subjects; in fact, she talks very little, and works without assistants when she’s shooting fine-art portraits. “I recognize what is happening between myself and the model, and I don’t force anything,” she said. “It’s amazing what you can see just by staring at someone.” (more…)

September 18th, 2012

French Court Orders Magazine to Hand Over Topless Photos of Kate Middleton

Three days after a French gossip magazine published photos of Kate Middleton, Dutchess of Cambridge, sunbathing topless, a court in France has ordered the magazine’s publisher to hand over all digital copies and blocked future publication of the images in any medium. The court ruled yesterday that the tabloid Closer must hand over the images within 24 hours or face a penalty of $13,100 a day, the AP reports. The photos were taken without permission while Middleton and her husband, William the Duke of Cambridge, an heir to the British throne, were vacationing at a private home court in the South of France. The French court also fined the French branch of Closer’s publisher, Mondadori, which is owned by Silvio Berlusconi, the Italian media mogul (and disgraced prime minister.)

Maud Sobel, a lawyer for the royal couple, said after the verdict, “We’ve been vindicated.” However, the French court’s ruling only affects Closer; the images have already been in an issue of Chi in Italy (also owned by Mondadori) and in the Independent Star of Ireland.  And who knows how many websites have reposted them.

The ruling may seem surprising. France, a country that has codified droit d’auteur, “moral rights” and other artists’ protections into law,  and hasn’t had much use for monarchs since Louis XVI was guillotined n 1793,  is siding against the press in favor of some huffy royals on the other side of the Channel.

According to the court, however, the issue at stake was the couple’s privacy.

The ruling states, “These snapshots which showed the intimacy of a couple, partially naked on the terrace of a private home, surrounded by a park several hundred meters from a public road, and being able to legitimately assume that they are protected from passers-by, are by nature particularly intrusive,” the French ruling decreed.

While the French tradition of holding artists’ rights in high regard probably dates back to  the French Revolution, its privacy laws are steeped in an even older tradition: the protection of honor.

Reviewing a new history of privacy law in The New York Times, Jeffrey Rosen, a law professor and editor at The New Republic, noted that Europe and America have always had different conceptions of privacy.

Rosen says that in the European tradition, privacy was conceived “as a way of protecting human dignity (as opposed to the American one, which is more interested in privacy as a way of protecting liberty).” Quoting scholar James Q. Whitman, Rosen notes that privacy rights grew out of a “deeply hierarchical society where all citizens knew their place and how much privacy they were entitled to demand: in such a world, privacy was for aristocrats, not for common people.”

The French court’s decision bears out Whitman’s contention: the ruling protects the honor of an aristocrat. A commoner might not have won this case. Not they would need to sue, since the breasts of us common folk aren’t tabloid fodder.

September 6th, 2012

Owners of Marilyn Monroe Photos Win Big Legal Victory Over Actor’s Heirs

Owners of Marilyn Monroe photographs have won a decisive legal victory in the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco, which has affirmed that Marilyn Monroe heirs have inherited no rights of publicity to the actress’s likeness.

The decision means that Monroe’s heirs cannot control how images of the actress are used commercially, and cannot demand fees whenever those images are licensed for use on calendars, posters, memorabilia, or other products.

The ruling, issued last week in the case of Milton H. Greene Archives v. Marilyn Monroe LLC, turned on the question of where Monroe was domiciled at the time of her death in 1962: New York or California. California has a law that transfers rights of publicity posthumously to a decedent’s heirs; New York does not.

The appeals court affirmed a lower court decision that said Monroe was a New York resident because her heirs had insisted upon that for 40 years in order to avoid paying California taxes. The courts said the heirs cannot now claim Monroe was a California resident in order to take financial advantage of California’s posthumous right of publicity laws.

The case began in 2005. In 2007, a federal district court in California ruled that no right of publicity law existed in either New York or California at the time of Monroe’s death in 1962. Therefore, she couldn’t have transferred that right to her heirs through her will, regardless of what state she resided in at the time of her death. (The question of her residence wasn’t settled at the time.)

That 2007 decision freed the Milton H. Greene archives to license Monroe photographs without interference from Monroe’s heirs, who are represented by Monroe LLC.

Monroe LLC responded by prevailing upon the California state legislature to pass a posthumous right of publicity law. That law states explicitly that its intent was to abrogate (nullify) the district court’s decision.

With that posthumous right of publicity law in hand, Monroe’s heirs then went back to the district court for reconsideration of the 2007 decision. Upon review, the district court concluded that Marilyn Monroe was domiciled in New York at the time of her death, not California, so New York  law applied in the right of publicity question.

Because New York still has no posthumous right of publicity law on the books, the court ruled that Monroe’s heirs could claim no rights of publicity. (The heirs had tried to get a posthumous right of publicity law passed in New York, as they had done in California, but the New York effort failed.)

With a lot of money at stake–sales of Monroe memorabilia reportedly generated $27 million in 2011, according to the court papers–Monroe’s heirs  appealed the district court’s second ruling to the Ninth Circuit court of appeals.

In a forceful decision, the appeals court upheld the district court’s finding on Monroe’s residence at the time of her death.

“Monroe LLC’s new litigation position that Monroe died domiciled in California, asserted to obtain the benefit of California’s posthumous right of publicity statute, is inconsistent with the preceding forty years of representations on behalf of the estate that Monroe died domiciled in New York,” the appeals court wrote in its decision.

The court continued, “The estate succeeded in persuading numerous judicial and quasi-judicial bodies to accept that Monroe died a domiciliary of New York.

“Judicial and quasi-judicial officers repeatedly accepted and relied upon the estate’s representations about Monroe’s New York domicile.

“The district court concluded that permitting Monroe LLC to assert that Monroe died a domiciliary of California in this litigation would unfairly allow it to obtain a ‘second advantage.’ We agree.”

A district court in New York reached a similar decision in favor of the Shaw Family Archives, which also licenses Monroe images. An appeal of that decision has been pending the outcome of the Ninth Circuit decision.

July 27th, 2012

Russell Brand Agrees to Community Service for Throwing Photog’s iPhone

Community service and a $500 fine for this phone throwing bad boy. ©It Books

A Louisiana  judge has ordered actor Russell Brand to perform 20 hours of community service and pay $500 in court costs for throwing a photographer’s iPhone through a plate glass window last spring, the Associated Press has reported. The community service is not specified, but could involve “charitable work with people suffering from additictions,” according to the report.

Brand allegedly snatched photographer Timothy Jackson’s iPhone and threw it through the window of a New Orleans law office as the photographer tried to take his picture last March. Brand was in New Orleans on a film shoot at the time.

Shortly after the incident, Brand made light of his actions on his Twitter feed with a post that said: “Since Steve Jobs died I cannot bear to see anyone use an iPhone irreverently, what I did was a tribute to his memory.”

Brand turned himself in to police after they put out a warrant for his arrest.

His attorney entered a plea of not guilty yesterday on charges of simple criminal damage to property. His attorney told the court that Brand was “harrassed,” according to the AP report.

The charges against Brand will be dropped if he completes the community service requirement by August 31, although it will not be supervised by the court. Instead, Brand’s attorney has told the court that he (the attorney) will provide proof to the court that Brand has completed the service.

Related stories:
Russell Brand Charged for Throwing Photog’s iPhone Through Window

Russell Brand Faces Arrest for Destroying Photog’s iPhone as Tribute to Steve Jobs

July 18th, 2012

Celebrity Smackdown II: Shirley Jones Consented to Red Carpet Images, Appeals Court Affirms

A federal appeals court has upheld a decision to dismiss a lawsuit against Corbis by actress Shirley Jones, who charged that the photo agency violated her rights of publicity by marketing images of her without permission. The appeals court also refused to vacate an award of attorney’s fees to Corbis totaling $357,533. The decision was handed down Monday by the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in Pasadena, California.

Jones originally sued Corbis in November, 2010, arguing that by offering images of Jones for license on its web site, the agency was making commercial use of her likeness without her permission, in violation of California state law.

In throwing out Jones’s claim last year, a federal district court in Los Angeles signaled that celebrity photo agencies can carry on business as usual, without worry that celebrities can sue them for displaying images for license without consent. (Users of those images still have to get consent if they intend to use the images for commercial purposes, such as to promote products or services.)

“The district court found that Jones consented to Corbis’s placement of sample photographs of Jones on its web site for the purpose of selling copyright licenses to those images,” the appeals court wrote, on its way to affirming the decision from the lower court. “Jones admitted that she intended for the photographs at issue to be distributed to media outlets and was not surprised that the photographers would use a third party distributor. She also admitted that she had not placed limits on how such photographs could be distributed…Jones provides no reason why Corbis should have questioned her apparent consent to her photographs being distributed.”

The appeals court judges didn’t bother to address other defenses Corbis had raised before the district court–including First Amendment rights, Copyright Act pre-emption and public affairs exceptions to right of publicity–because Jones failed to prove Corbis distributed the red carpet images without her consent. In other words, Jones effectively gave Corbis consent, so the court did not have to consider other defenses that Cobis had raised.

When the district court originally dismissed Jones’ claim, the judge ordered her to pay the photo agency’s legal costs. Jones challenged the lower court’s award of $357,533, but the appeals court let the award stand, explaining that the photo agency’s accounting of its costs for defending against the actress’s claims were reasonable.

Related story:
Celebrity Smackdown: Walking the Red Carpet Is Consent, Judge Says

June 19th, 2012

Alec Baldwin Attacks Newspaper Photographer (Update)

June 20, 2012: Mickey Osterreicher, general counsel for National Press Photographers Association, has weighed in on the incident, publishing an “Open Letter to Alec Baldwin.” Details below.

Not that it’s news these days when a celebrity (or bodyguard of a celebrity) shoves, punches or tries to run over a photographer, but the Daily News has posted photos of Alec Baldwin apparently attacking Marcus Santos, one of the newspaper’s photographers.

Santos was photographing Baldwin as the actor left the New York City marriage license bureau with his fiancee, Hilaria Thomas, after they obtained a marriage license. According to the Daily News report, Santos said Baldwin told several photographers to step back, then began shoving and punching Santos. “One time, right on the chin,” Santos said.

The paper also reported that Baldwin later Tweeted that a photographer “almost hit me with his camera this morning.” According to a report on the WIS-TV web site, Baldwin also said that the paparazzi should be “waterboarded.”

*Update: Yesterday the NPPA.org blog posted “An Open Letter to Alec Baldwin,” written by NPPA attorney Mickey Osterreicher.   Osterreicher notes that “eyewitnesses” to the event report that photographers were not near Baldwin at the time of the “assault.” He states, “I object to your combative actions against photographers who were doing nothing more than waiting to take your photograph, an activity you’ve willingly participated in thousands of times, posing when you thought it was in your best interest.”

The letter goes on to say, “It is all too easy to denigrate working journalists by calling them “paparazzi,” but not all photographers deserve that demeaning title, just as all actors are not boors or bullies.”

The full text is available here: http://blogs.nppa.org/advocacy/2012/06/19/an-open-letter-to-alec-baldwin/

 

May 25th, 2012

AP Launches New Entertainment Agency to Challenge Getty

©Matt Sayles/Invision--Pop star Katy Perry

The Associated Press and a group of veteran entertainment photographers have launched Invision, a new photo agency based in Los Angeles. The agency will cover entertainment and red carpet events, as well as take on assignments for consumer brands, film and TV studios, and PR agencies.

Invision’s goal is to take on the dominant player in the celebrity photo business: Getty Images, which has owned entertainment agency Wireimage since 2007.

“I’ve heard from a lot of people I’ve worked with that they weren’t happy with one choice. They wanted another option,” says Invision managing director Dan Becker.

Becker, who was formerly director of commercial content and services for AP Images, says Invision will operate as a separate company from AP. The wire service is the majority owner, and will provide distribution for Invision.

So far, Invision has just one staff photographer–Chris Pizzello. Other contractors and freelancers include Matt Sayles, Evan Agostini, Jordan Strauss, Todd Williamson, John Shearer, Jon Furniss and Casey Rodgers.

Becker says there will be opportunities for other photographers, too. “We will use AP’s freelance network, but we intend to recruit other photographers and grow our own freelance network,” he says. “It’s a big part of our mission.”

Becker says he relies primarily on word-of-mouth recommendations from photographers he’s currently working with to identify new talent. “We will try people out with entry level assignments,” he says.

May 7th, 2012

Music Photographer Jim McCrary Dies at 72

Jim McCrary, the former A&M Records staff photographer who shot the cover of Carole King’s Tapestry and other rock-and-roll albums, died on April 29, 2012, “of complications from a chronic nervous system disorder,” the Los Angeles Times reports. He was 72 years old.

McCrary was born and raised in Los Angeles. He was a self-taught photographer who eventually studied at Pasadena City College and Art Center College of Design. McCrary began his career as a staff photographer at various portrait studios and in the photography department of Rockwell International, a manufacturing company involved in the aircraft, space and consumer electronics industries, amongst others.

In 1967 he became the chief photographer for A&M Records and ended up photographing over 300 album covers during the seven years he worked there. Some of his most famous covers include Carole King’s Tapestry, the Carpenters’ Ticket to Ride and Joe Crocker’s Mad Dogs and Englishmen. He also shot related publicity and advertising work for Gram Parsons, the Flying Burrito Brothers, Cat Stevens, Peter Frampton, Herb Alpert and other musicians.

After leaving the label, he owned his own studio in Hollywood until 1990. He then co-founded Pix Inc., a professional camera store in Los Angeles.

McCrary is survived by his son, Jason McCrary, and his brothers Wylee Dale McCrary and Doug McCrary.

May 4th, 2012

Vogue, Harper’s Magazine and The New York Times Magazine Win National Magazine Awards for Photography

From Richard Ross's "Juvenile Injustice" photo essay in the October 2011 issue of Harper's Magazine. © Richard Ross

Vogue won the prize for best overall use of photography at the 2012 National Magazine Awards, held in New York City last night. Given out by the American Society of Magazine Editors, the awards honor excellence in magazine editorial. Vogue beat out four other finalists in the category of Photography: GQ, Interview, National Geographic and Virginia Quarterly Review. The fashion title’s photography department is lead by photography director Ivan Shaw.

In the News and Documentary Photography category, Harper’s Magazine won for “Juvenile Injustice,” a photo essay on juvenile detainees by photographer Richard Ross. He worked with art director Stacey D. Clarkson and assistant art director Sam Finn Cate-Gumpert on the assignment. In the same category, Harper’s Magazine was also nominated for “Uncertain Exodus,” photographed by Ed Ou. The other finalists were National Geographic for “Too Young to Wed,” photographed by Stephanie Sinclair; The New York Times Magazine for “From Zero to 104,” photographed by Damon Winter; and Time for “Birds of Hope,” photographed by James Nachtwey.

The New York Times Magazine won the Feature Photography award for “Vamps, Crooks & Killers.” Alex Prager shot actors dressed as iconic villains for the photo essay and accompanying video. She worked with director of photography Kathy Ryan, deputy photo editor Joanna Milter, design director Arem Duplessis and editor Hugo Lindgren on the assignment. The other nominees in the category were National Geographic for “Taming the Wild,” photographed by Vincent J. Musi; Time for “Portraits of Resilience,” photographed by Marco Grob; Vogue for “Lady Be Good,” photographed by Steven Klein; and W for “Planet Tilda,” photographed by Tim Walker.

For a complete list of winners, visit magazine.org.

Related Article:

ESPN, W, New York Times Magazine Win 2011 National Magazine Awards for Photography