Material appearing in this website is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended as legal advice. Conveying this information by means of the Internet is not intended to create and does not create an attorney-client relationship.
No recipients of content from this website, clients or otherwise, should act or refrain from acting on the basis of any content included in the website without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from Joel L. Hecker, Esq. The content of this website contains general information and may not reflect current legal developments, verdicts or settlements. Joel L. Hecker, Esq. expressly disclaims all liability in respect to actions taken or not taken based on any or all the contents of this site.
We want to hear from you by e-mail, but you must use caution when communicating over the Internet. Electronic mail or other communication to Joel L. Hecker, Esq. cannot be guaranteed to be confidential. Your message may not be secure and therefore we recommend you exercise discretion in sending confidential or sensitive information by e-mail. In no event will any e-mail or other communication through this website create an attorney-client relationship.
On June 26, 2015, a decision of interest concerning the application of the statute of limitations and work made for hire doctrine in connection with copyright litigation was issued in the Southern District of New York. The case is Gideon Lewin vs. The Richard Avedon Foundation, docket No. 11-cv-8767 (KMW) (FM). The court dismissed the The Richard Avedon Foundation's (the Foundation) affirmative claims that photographs created by Lewin while he was acting as studio manager for Richard Avedon between 1965 and 1980 were works made for hire, since it waited too long to raise the defense. However, the work made for hire argument, ruled the court, is still available as an affirmative defense to Lewin's suit for declaratory judgment that he owns such copyrights. This article will discuss these aspects of the decision.
Disclaimer: I am counsel to the plaintiff, Gideon Lewin, in this action, which is ongoing.
Lewin had a special relationship with Avedon, which permitted him to take photographs on his own time and for his own clients, resulting in Lewin owning the copyright to such photographs (the Foundation claims such images are works made for hire.) In 2006, Lewin met with Norma Stevens, who was the executive director of the Foundation at that time, to discuss his plans to write a book about his years with Avedon. Lewin showed Stevens images that he created and that he owned. Stevens then sent an email to another director of the Foundation, which reported on this meeting. Stevens admitted in the email that Lewin had many pictures of Avedon working, and was preparing a "dignified" book. Stevens further wrote that she made it clear to Lewin that the Foundation couldn't prevent him from using his images.
Originally published on July 10 of The Entertainment, Arts and Sports Law Blog, an online publication of the Entertainment, Arts and Sports Law Section of the New York State Bar Association.