Document Type


Publication Title

Columbia Journal of Law & the Arts

Publication Date




First Page



Toward the end of his dissent in Garcia v. Google, Judge Alex Kozinski remarked that “[w]hen modern works, such as films or plays, are produced, contributors will often create separate, copyrightable works as part of the process.” Judge Kozinski’s characterization of plays (or even films) as “modern works” opens the door to an examination of that claim with respect to another genre of modern work: the photograph. This essay focuses on the treatment of claimed authorial contributions by photographic subjects to the photographs in which they are portrayed. It traces the analysis of this issue from the early photography cases (and provides the relevant litigated images) to present times. What emerges is a forceful line of precedent that largely did not consider, accept, or emphasize a photographic subject’s authorial contributions to a finished photographic image. Coming full circle, I argue that longstanding judicial instincts on this front may help explain the outcome in the Garcia case.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.