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Amateur Photographer’s Work Benefits Heirs

Posted by Nina Whitehurst | Dec 19, 2017 | 0 Comments

Photographer's work was not known in her lifetime, but is recognized now.

A woman passed away in 2009 entirely unknown. She had no known heirs or estate plan. However, the value of her amateur photography has now sparked a copyright battle, according to PDN Pulse in "Federal Court Sustains Vivian Maier Copyright Claim."

Vivian Maier worked as a housekeeper and was poor. She stopped making payments in 2007 on a small storage locker she had in Chicago and the contents of the locker were auctioned off.

Included in the Chicago storage locker were a number of photographs and negatives that Maier had taken over the years. She apparently loved to take pictures of what she saw on the street.

However, Maier was not an ordinary amateur photographer.

She was brilliant and interest in her work grew immediately, when some of it was posted online.

Collectors began buying up her works, including a man named Jeffrey Goldstein. He began selling prints of the work and licensing the images for use.

Maier's estate sued Goldstein for copyright violations. Goldstein asked that the court dismiss the suit,  since he claimed to have purchased the works before Maier passed away.

His request has been denied and the heirs will now benefit from her work.

Reference: PDN Pulse (Nov. 21, 2017) "Federal Court Sustains Vivian Maier Copyright Claim."

About the Author

Nina Whitehurst

Attorney at Law Nina has been practicing law for over 30 years in the areas of estate planning, real estate and business law She is currently licensed in Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Oregon and Tennessee. Her Martindale-Hubbell attorney rating is the highest achievable: 5 stars in peer...


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