Copyright controversy and the difference a GREAT PHOTOGRAPHER makes






Even as I approached the statue from behind I knew exactly what I was coming upon; a tribute to the great photographer ALFRED EISENSTAEDT. It really bothered me not to see his name associated with this work of art, just "UNCONDITIONAL SURRENDER" by J.Seward Johnson. Not far from Downtown Sarasota Florida where there is a thriving art district, it is quite a tourist attraction. The weekly neighborhood paper talked about the piece in no less than three articles (never once mentioning EISENSTAEDT) They couldn't decide if they liked it , hated it, if it was indeed a work of art and even if it attracted the wrong elements to their town!?!

Being the big proponent of copyright infringement and intellectual property rights
(I had to sue a Staten Island Wedding photographer when he used my b/w infrared photo of a bride he had no connection with. He said he thought I would be thrilled that that he was publishing my image to promote his business but without my byline or licensing fees it destroyed my friendship with him. He would not stop using the photo as his main image in Bridal magazines and in his storefront and at Bridal shows for 5 years! Yes I gave him the negative so he could make a print to secure a special job but to use it for other things should definitely have had my permission!) That *$%#@?!! of a $#%#$&*^&%!!

So I researched and found out that "V–J day in Times Square", a photograph by Alfred Eisenstaedt, was published in Life in 1945 with the caption: In New York's Times Square a white-clad girl clutches her purse and skirt as an uninhibited sailor plants his lips squarely on hers. In the photograpger's own words:
I was walking through the crowds on V-J Day, looking for pictures. I noticed a sailor coming my way. He was grabbing every female he could find and kissing them all — young girls and old ladies alike. Then I noticed the nurse, standing in that enormous crowd. I focused on her, and just as I'd hoped, the sailor came along, grabbed the nurse, and bent down to kiss her. Now if this girl hadn't been a nurse, if she'd been dressed dark clothes, I wouldn't have had a picture. The contrast between her white dress and the sailor's dark uniform gives the photograph its extra impact.

It became a cultural icon overnight and by establishing his copyright, the photographer carefully controlled the rights to it, only allowing a limited number of reproductions which determined how it could be used. Since his death in 1995, the rights to the photograph have passed to a Getty Museum as part of the LIFE archives.

U.S. Navy photo journalist Victor Jorgensen captured another view of the same scene, which was published in the New York Times the following day. Jorgensen titled his photograph Kissing the War Goodbye. It shows less of Times Square in the background, lacking the characteristic view of the complex intersection so that the location needs to be identified, it is dark and shows few details of the main subjects, and it does not show the lower legs and feet of the subjects.
Unlike the Eisenstaedt photograph, which is protected by copyright, this Navy photograph is in the public domain as it was produced by a federal government employee on official duty.

In 2005 Seward Johnson used a computer to design a life-scale bronze statue that he titled Unconditional Surrender. This statue and several large versions in styrofoam and aluminum have been exhibited at several locations in the United States. A spokesperson has stated that it is based on the Jorgensen photograph titled Kissing the War Goodbye, but a spokesperson for Life has called it a copyright infringement of the photograph by Eisenstaedt.