It’s a classic tale about the little guy being bullied by a billion-dollar corporation to get their way. Adding to their portfolio of notoriety and stooping to a new low, Walmart is now suing a photographer’s widow in Arkansas for the rights to the images her husband and his father took of the Walton family–the ones responsible for starting Walmart.
According to reports, Walmart is demanding that widow Helen Huff turn over the negatives, proofs and prints of some 200 photographs taken by Robert A. Huff and his son, David A. Huff, both deceased, maintaining that the Walton Family owns the intellectual property rights to the photos.
But Helen Huff is not as easily intimidated as they probably thought. What Walmart thought was a straightforward case in their favor has now been moved from the state to the federal court. She is now countersuing to stop Walmart from using the photographs without her permission. She asserts that both her husband and her father-in-law, who co-founded and owned Bob’s Studio of Photography in Fayetteville, AR, were not under “work-for-hire” contracts but working as independent contractors when they took the photos and had given the Walton family copyright notices to inform them that the Huff owned the rights to reproduce the images exclusively.
While unconfirmed, it’s been reported by the Professional Photographers of America (PPA) that the Walton family offered Helen $2,000 for everything–which seems a bit like a paltry sum for something so valuable. No doubt Walmart was trying to keep this from blowing up in their faces. No word yet on whether or not she shook on it.
Let’s hope the Mrs. Huff wins this one, if only to serve as a lesson to evil corporations so they’d think twice before trying to take another small business down.