Artist sues photographer over images of public art in Seattle

KOMO News:

Public art in Seattle's Capitol Hill neighborhood is at the center of a legal copyright fight.

The Dance Steps on Broadway consists of eight different stations, each of which features its own dance step.

Mike Hipple took photos of those steps, and he's now being sued for the photos that earned him $60.

"A large majority of the images were out of focus," Hipple said. "And you can see some of the dance steps, I think, maybe there were a handful of them (photos)."

Out of focus or not, Jack Mackie, the man who sculpted the Dance Steps of Broadway sued Hipple, claiming the photographer side-stepped his copyright.

"My agency, at that point, told me that they had complied with his wishes and had destroyed the images. There was no copies (sic) available," Hipple said.

But that hasn't stopped Mackie's lawsuit, even though many consider the Dance Steps as a part of the quirky vibe of Capitol Hill.

"You walk over'em all the time. You see people participating in the dance steps all the time. People are taking pictures of the people participating in the dance steps all the time," said area resident Kevin McDonald.

The city commissioned the Dance Steps of Broadway more than 30 years ago, and used public funds to cover some costs. And the neighborhood quickly embraced it.

"I'm pretty sure it's in a lot of pictures," said resident Charlene Yin. "How are you going to keep people from taking pictures of things on the street?"

Copyright laws allow for limited reproduction of the original work under the fair use provision.

But Mackie has indicated he's worried his copyright is slowly being chipped away. So for now, he's keeping up the fight.

article originally published at KOMO News.

The media's job is to interest the public in the public interest. -John Dewey