The Los Angeles Times’s Mike Boehm does excellent work moving the Ansel Adams story forward. He interviewed a copyright lawyer who points out that unpublished work is does not fall out of copyright until 70 years after the creator’s death. For Adams, that would be 2054 and mean Norsigian and his partners would have to turn over profits from sales of the previously unpublished Adams images to the estate:
But in order to make a claim on Norsigian’s earnings from the prints, or to stop their sale, Iser said, Adams’ estate would have to first agree with Norsigian that the 17 pictures he has published so far, out of a cache of 65, are authentic works by Ansel Adams.
We posed the question to William Turnage, Adams’ former business manager who is managing trustee of the Ansel Adams Publishing Rights Trust that administers the copyright for the photographer’s work.
“It is an interesting conundrum,” Turnage wrote in an e-mail Wednesday. “And I seriously doubt we would ever claim these negatives as Ansel’s … since we do not believe they are Ansel’s. But we have copyrighted Ansel’s name and believe that this precludes others from using it for commercial purposes without permission.”
If Purported Ansel Adams Photos Earn Big Money, Their Discoverer May Not Get to Keep It (Culture Monster/LA Times)