“Man sued over photos of public art on Seattle streets”

Mike Hipple took photos of Dance Steps on Broadway, a public art installation on sidewalks in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood. The photos earned him $60 and now a lawsuit from sculptor Jack Mackie. [KOMO]


  • “Yo, genius – if it’s in PUBLIC, I can photograph it.”

  • “Yo, genius – if it’s in PUBLIC, I can photograph it.”

    If only that were true.

    Also, from the article.

    “But Mackie has indicated he’s worried his copyright is slowly being chipped away.”

    Mackie doesn’t seem to understand the difference between copyright and trademark law.

  • Mackie specializes in public art, per his resume (http://jackmackie.com/id7.html). Also from his website:
    “Through working in collaboration with artists, engineers, architects, urban planners and the citizens of the communities being served, Mr. Mackie has come to understand that while public art requires an enlightened attitude, the art of making places public fosters that attitude.”

    By the way, his homepage lists his cell phone and email address, if anyone wants to drop him a note asking, “WTH?”

  • More on the story here: http://www.photoattorney.com/?p=1056

    And Dirk it is copyright law in this case, not trademark 😉

  • “And Dirk it is copyright law in this case, not trademark”

    No kidding, but unlike a trademark, a copyright can’t be “chipped away” or lost for lack of use or enforcement.

  • If the work was commissioned by the city, why is it not a work-for-hire whose copyright lies with the city?

  • Bill

    Work for hire doesn’t include commissioned work (usually). Work for hire is typically confined to actual employees doing work within the scope of their employment.

    Note: The preceding analysis is a gross oversimplification.

  • Mr. Olson (and readers/bloggers too): This might be slightly off topic, but this seems to me to be similar to the concept of a right of privacy in a public place; i.e. How can the underage girls (families?) videoed in the “Girls Gone Wild” series of videos sue the maker of the videos……when the girls themselves are there illegally (underage drinking) and dancing/removing clothing in a public place?

  • Alternatively the defendant could return to the scene and pretend to trip over the artwork, thereby securing a multi-million dollar lawsuit against the city and the artist.