A woman passed away in 2009 entirely unknown and without an estate plan. However, the value of her amateur photography has now sparked a copyright battle, according to PDN Pulse in "Federal Court Sustains Vivian Maier Copyright Claim."
Vivian Maier worked as a housekeeper and was poor. She stopped making payments in 2007 on a small storage locker she had in Chicago and the contents of the locker were auctioned off.
Included in the Chicago storage locker were a number of photographs and negatives that Maier had taken over the years. She apparently loved to take pictures of what she randomly saw on the street.
However, Maier was not an ordinary amateur photographer. She was brilliant and interest in her work grew immediately, when some of it was posted online.
Collectors began buying up her works, including a man named Jeffrey Goldstein. He began selling prints of the work and licensing the images for use.
Maier's estate sued Goldstein for copyright violations. Goldstein asked that the court dismiss the suit, since he claimed to have purchased the works before Maier passed away. His request has been denied and the heirs will now benefit from her work.
Reference: PDN Pulse (Nov. 21, 2017) "Federal Court Sustains Vivian Maier Copyright Claim."