STAR-BULLETIN / NOVEMBER 2006
Photographer Kim Taylor Reece said yesterday he was disappointed a federal judge did not order an art gallery to stop displaying this stained glass artwork that he says infringes on one of his photo's copyrights.
Ruling disappoints photographer
Kim Taylor Reece believes he will prevail at trial over alleged copyright infringement
Photographer Kim Taylor Reece is disappointed a federal judge did not order a Kailua art gallery to stop displaying a stained-glass artwork of a hula girl he feels is infringing on the copyright of one of his photographs.
U.S. District Judge Michael Seabright refused to grant Reece a preliminary injunction Friday against Island Treasures Art Gallery and its owner, Gail Allen, because he said the stained-glass piece is not a copy of Reece's photograph. Reece is suing the gallery and Allen for copyright infringement.
"We didn't present all of the evidence we will present at trial," Reece said. "Once all of the evidence is presented in the jury trial, we will prevail."
Reece did not have to prove his case for a preliminary injunction, just that he is likely to prevail.
Seabright's written ruling was detailed, comparing the backgrounds of both pieces and the central image of both, a woman performing the same hula movement.
Reece believes Seabright's ruling went beyond the scope of copyright infringement, delving into the emotional cultural issues raised by the defendants. He said he has been contacted by many fellow artists outraged over the ruling.
"We're seeing a major backlash," he said.
Filmmaker Edgy Lee said she is disappointed the case could not be settled quietly between the artists and the gallery. And she believes taking the case to court could prove detrimental to everybody.
"Understanding intellectual rights of artists is very complex, and people may not understand and separate what they feel," she said. "It's getting mixed up with other issues."
The attorney and advocates for the gallery accuse Reece of trying to copyright hula. Seabright ruled that the stained-glass piece and the photograph depict the same traditional hula movement, which is in the public domain and is therefore not copyrightable.