Copyright Law

Walmart Museum sues photographer's widow for Walton family pictures and negatives


The Walmart Museum and family members of Wal-Mart Stores founder Sam Walton have filed a lawsuit seeking the rights to family photos taken over the course of several decades.

The suit pending in Arkansas federal court seeks negatives, proofs and prints taken between 1950 and 1994 by Fayetteville photographer Robert Huff and his son, David Huff, report the Arkansas Times and the Washington Post.

The Walton family claims the photos were taken as a “work for hire,” and they have the intellectual property rights. The suit claims the materials were held by the photographers as a courtesy for the Waltons.

The defendants in the suit are David Huff’s widow, Helen Huff, and Bob’s Studio of Photography. They maintain Robert and David Huff were independent contractors and Helen Huff is now the rightful owner of the photographs.

Wal-Mart spokesman Randy Hargrove issued this statement on the case: “As you can imagine, many of the photos go back many years and commemorate the history, heritage and culture of our company. We believe that some of the photos that Bob’s Studio has belong to Wal-Mart. All we want is for the court to make it clear who rightfully owns these photographs. We tried very hard to resolve this without involving the courts. We never wanted the issue to reach this point and we’ve done everything possible to avoid this.”

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