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Wal-Mart sues widow over old family photos



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A photography organization is siding with the woman, and describes the company’s tactics as ‘bullying.’

Wal-Mart’s (WMT) founding family is involved in a lawsuit against the widow of a small-town photographerover Walton family photos taken decades ago.

Hundreds of photographs of the Walton family were taken by Robert Huff, the proprietor of Fayetteville, Ark.-based Bob’s Studio of Photography, and his son David, between 1950 and 1994.

 

Robert and David are now deceased, but the Walton family is suing Helen Huff, David’s widow, demanding the return of any photos and negatives that remain, The Washington Post reports.

 

The Waltons say the Huffs kept the prints and negatives as a courtesy to the family and that the photos are the Waltons’ property. Huff’s widow contends that she owns the copyright to the images and is counter-suing the Walton family and The Walmart Museum to block their use of the images.

 

Huff reportedly turned down a $2,000 offer from Wal-Mart for the images. The Walton family is suing Huff under the name Crystal Lands LLC, and the Walmart Museum filed the suit under the Wal-Mart Stores name, The Post reports.

 

Part of the issue stems from how the photographers were classified. If they were “work-for-hire,” as the Walton family contends they are, the Walton family would have rights to the copyright. If they were independent contractors, the photographers would have the rights.

 

Citing prior celebrity photo lawsuits, the Professional Photographers of America (PPA) sides with Huff’s widow. On its website, the PPA points out that photographers typically own the copyright to images they take, and says Wal-Mart’s tactics are “bullying.”

 

The case will go before a U.S. District Court judge in early July.

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