Professional Photographers of America Announces Update to Walmart v. Huff Case
July 16, 2015
Trail to be Postponed Until April 2015
ATLANTA, Ga. – Professional Photographers of America (PPA) announced today that the trial date for the Walmart v. Huff case is set for April 2015.
At a recent case management hearing, the judge set the trial for the trial term beginning April 6, 2015 and ending April 30. This doesn't necessarily mean the case will go to trial April 6, just that the case is set to be tried sometime during that term.
The matter involves Walmart, the largest retailer in the world, and a small Arkansas photography studio. In May of this year, Walmart's founding family, the Waltons, filed suit against Helen Huff, the widow of Arkansas photographer and former PPA member David A. Huff.
David Huff's studio, Bob's Studio of Photography, was founded by his late father, Robert A. Huff, in 1946, and created portraits of the Walton family before the expansion of Walmart grew them into one of the wealthiest families in the world. But now Walmart and the Walton family are demanding that Helen Huff hand over those works.
The complaint states that they (the Waltons) seek to obtain six or more boxes of photos, negatives, and proofs, alleging that over the years, Bob's Studio retained those items "as a courtesy" to Walmart and their family. The complaint further states that the Waltons own intellectual property rights to the photos. The fact is, under federal law, photographers own the copyrights to their own works.
In a statement, Walmart spokesman Randy Hargrove outlined Walmart's position.
"As you can imagine, many of the photos go back many years and commemorate the history, heritage and culture of our company. We believe that some of the photos that Bob's Studio has belong to Walmart. All we want is for the court to make it clear who rightfully owns these photographs. We tried very hard to resolve this without involving the courts. We never wanted the issue to reach this point and we've done everything possible to avoid this."
PPA has been working with Huff to support her case and thereby advocate for photographers' copyrights.
"If there were ever a David vs. Goliath situation, this is it" says PPA CEO David Trust. "We simply can't remain idle and allow this to happen-it would set a terrible precedent. In our opinion, this obviously is a violation of copyright law and it is beyond question that Ms. Huff owns the photographs. And if the Waltons want the photographs, they should pay for them."
Walmart filed its lawsuit against Helen Huff in state court, but because it is a copyright issue, Huff's defense removed it to federal court. The defense argues in its answer to the Walmart complaint that Huff owns copyrights to all the works her late husband and father-in-law created for the Walton family, and that they worked as independent contractors for the Walton family. In addition, Huff's defense filed a counterclaim of copyright infringement, alleging that in the past Walmart has reproduced and allowed third parties to use Bob's Studio of Photography's copyrighted works.
PPA is in contact with Huff's lawyers and has offered to file an amicus brief when and if that time comes. For more information on the many copyright resources provided by PPA, visit PPA.com/copyright.
Professional Photographers of America (PPA) is the largest international non-profit association created by professional photographers, for professional photographers. Almost as long-lived as photography itself, PPA has roots that date back to 1869. It assists close to 27,000 members through protection, education and resources for their continued success. See how PPA helps photographers be more at ppa.com.