Marilyn Monroe photographs subject of copyright litigation

On Behalf of | Aug 9, 2018 | Business Litigation |

Marilyn Monroe fans in California may be interested in learning about ongoing litigation over the copyrights held for a series of famous photographs of the star. The pictures, which are called the “Last Sitting” collection, were taken by photographer Bert Stern in 1962, and they are among the most iconic photographs that were taken of the star.

Stern’s widow filed a lawsuit against two sisters who were Stern’s assistants, alleging that they violated the copyrights to the photographs by selling prints of them on the internet as well as modified images of the pictures. The sisters argued that the copyrights were owned by Condé Nast. Some of the photographs had previously been published in Vogue, and Stern had reportedly had a business relationship with the magazine.

The New York court ruled that the copyrights are owned by a testamentary trust that was created by Stern for the benefit of his heirs and not by Condé Nast. The case will now go to trial to settle the issue of whether the sisters infringed on the copyrights of the photographs.

Securing copyrights for legacy works and registering them is important. Having a good paper trail that clearly documents the copyrights can help the rightful owners to protect their interests in the intellectual property. People who own important works may benefit by securing copyrights so that others will not be able to infringe on them. Experienced intellectual property law attorneys may assist their clients with applying for copyrights and registering them with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. If other people or entities infringe on the copyrights, attorneys may prosecute them in an effort to protect their clients’ rights. Clients might be able to recover damages for the losses that resulted from the infringements.

Source: Wealth Management, “Landmark Marilyn Monroe copyright dispute decided,” Anna Sulkin, Aug. 3, 2018.

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