As much as we have discussed copyright and the licensing of photography, there’s a continual steam of stories about those who don’t play by the rules. The latest chapter involves a one billion dollar lawsuit filed against Getty and Alamy by photographer Carol Highsmith.
Highsmith began donating her photography to the Library of Congress in 1992 which makes it available for, as I understand it, public domain access. Here’s where the plot thickens—evidently Getty sent her one of their famous cease and desist letters, accusing her of copyright infringement of her own photographs.
A few examples of Highsmith’s work:
Update: My friend Wendy Kalman points us to the passage from the Carol M. Highsmith Wikipedia page that reads, in part: “In November 2016, after the judge hearing the case dismissed much of plaintiff Highsmith’s case on grounds that she had relinquished her claim of copyright when she donated much of her work to the Library of Congress (and thus to the public domain), the remainder of the lawsuit was settled by the parties out of court.”