Property, intangible

a blog about ownership of intellectual property rights and its licensing

Leibovitz Postcard Anyone?

News stories are reporting that renowned photographer Annie Leibovitz has used – well, something – as collateral for a $24 million loan that is due in September. The New York Times reports it this way:

On July 29, Ms. Leibovitz was sued in State Supreme Court for nonpayment by a company that had lent her $24 million, and which demanded access to her homes so it could begin the process of selling them to satisfy her debt. Ms. Leibovitz had taken out the loan last year, pledging as collateral properties in Greenwich Village and in Rhinebeck, N.Y., her negatives and the rights to her photographs.

Morning Edition on National Public Radio only serves to confuse:

Last year, Leibovitz went to Art Capital Group — which Salkin describes as “basically a high-end pawn shop” — for a loan. “Anybody can go to them with their artworks — their Cezannes, Picassos — and get a loan against them, up to 40 percent of the appraised value,” he says.

The statement suggests that one is getting a loan against possession of the tangible objects, the paintings. The Art Capital Group’s web site also seems to only contemplate financing using the tangible objects, not the copyright in them. But the New York Times reference to using the “rights” as collateral suggests that Art Capital Group might have some kind of ownership interest in the copyrights themselves. Assignment, license? I can’t imagine that Art Capital Group would flub that piece of the action, although an interesting exercise to contemplate. If it has the negatives but not the copyrights, does it have an implied license to make new prints to sell? Just direct prints or other types of reproductions, like postcards?

I imagine Ms. Leibovitz’s lawyers are having a good crack at the contract.

© 2009 Pamela Chestek

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