Archive for July 16th, 2021

July 16, 2021

Subotnik Quoted in The New Yorker Magazine

Professor Eva Subotnik was interviewed for an article published this week on The New Yorker magazine’s website. The article is entitled Who Owns Mike Disfarmer’s Photographs?, by Eren Orbey (July 13, 2021).

The article is about the legacy and legal questions surrounding the work of Mike Disfarmer, a small-town photographer in Arkansas who died in 1959, without a will, and found substantial fame only after death—in ways reminiscent of “nanny photographer” Vivian Maier.

Professor Subotnik is quoted toward the end of the article:

Last fall, much like Disfarmer’s family, more than a dozen of [Chicago janitor Henry] Darger’s relatives teamed up and retained a lawyer. Eva Subotnik, a law professor at St. John’s University who has written extensively on intellectual-property debates in photography, worries that such efforts may discourage future collectors from salvaging work that would otherwise never be seen. “It would obviously be a real shame if the next Vivian Maier is lost to history,” she said. “Likewise, it would be ironic if copyright law plays more of a role in burying great work than birthing it.”


Eva E. Subotnik
Professor of Law
Associate Dean for Faculty Scholarship
Faculty Director, St. John’s Intellectual Property Law Center (IPLC)

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