Time Inc., please sue Sarasota for copyright infringement

Time Inc., please sue Sarasota for copyright infringement

January 23, 2021
Petition to
Meredith Corporation (owner of Time Inc. and the Time/Life photo library)
Signatures: 632Next Goal: 1,000
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Why this petition matters

Started by No Permission

*** Please don't donate - not looking for money, just co-signers

The founders of the United States viewed intellectual property rights as a linchpin for the ideal of American ingenuity, and felt the best way to cultivate continual societal advancement was to marry the ideas of creativity and capitalism (a.k.a. the "original right") in Article 1, Section 8, Clause 8 of the U.S. Constitution by “securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries.” 

We, the undersigned, support art, women’s rights, and the same U.S. Constitution that our brave service members put their lives on the line to uphold, and therefore we implore Time Inc. to bring federal suit against the city of Sarasota to secure a take-down order for the city government’s willful display of an unlicensed derivative of Alfred Eisenstaedt’s iconic copyrighted image: VJ Day in Times Square.
It is the only way to end the circus created by this monumental misunderstanding.


  1. Time Inc., now owned by the Meredith Corporation, exclusively controls the rights to the copyright-protected image “VJ Day in Times Square” commissioned as a work-for-hire by Life magazine in August, 1945.
  2. and, the city of Sarasota was made aware, in writing, by Time Inc., in April 2008 that Seward Johnson’s giant reproduction violated Time Inc.'s copyright;
  3. and, the Sarasota city attorney stated publicly on September 8, 2009 (5:37:55) that the statue met the legal definition of a derivative work;
  4. and, that: 
    • Seward Johnson confessed, to the New York Times, two years prior to manufacturing the first replica, his intention to create a mammoth figurine based on Alfred Eisenstaedt’s photograph,
    • Johnson’s later claim that he derived the statue from a public domain image of the same individuals by Navy photographer Viktor Jorgenson is a fabrication, as that photograph only shows the two subjects from the knees up (omitting the off-balance angle of the women’s leg, the unusual position of her right foot, and her distinctive shoes);
    • Johnson was an intellectual property scofflaw who named another piece “Copyright Violation”.
    • Unconditional Surrender appears to deliberately imitate another copycat, in that inflating, colorizing, and super-sizing a copyright-protected black-and-white image was done first by Johnson’s friend and fellow appropriation artist Jeff Koons in String of Puppies (right down to inserting flowers not in the original image), which resulted in a landmark judgment against Koons;
  5. and, that the city of Sarasota is an active participant in ongoing willful copyright infringement; as demonstrated by:
    • The inclusion of a three-year escrow in the 2010 loan and donation agreement to cover what was then thought to be the statute of limitations for bringing suit (an assumption over-ruled by a 2014 Supreme Court case involving Raging Bull).
    • The contractual agreement by the city to secure no other license, and to display, alongside the statue, a visually-prominent notice ascribing sole copyright credit to Seward Johnson / The Sculpture Foundation—even though the city of Sarasota states that the “sculpture depicts the famed Life magazine photo” in its 2020 book Public Art. City Spaces.
    • The vicarious copyright infringement promoted by the city through its agreement to promulgate Johnson’s copyright notice on all published photos (including those which the donation agreement presumes tourists will take and post online), 
  6. and, that a book published in 2012 explicated what Eisenstaedt himself described in the long-mysterious photograph’s captions—that the image depicts a forceful unilateral act by an inebriated sailor violating the bodily autonomy of a stranger. 

  7. and, whereas, despite their fiduciary and legal obligations to the taxpayers of the city of Sarasota, the majority of the Sarasota city commission voted on November 16, 2020 to expend $60,000 to relocate the deceptive sculpture for upcoming construction, thereby:

    • Creating a new display instance, which entitles the copyright holder to the maximum statutory damages for willful copyright infringement.

    • Making the citizens of Sarasota unwilling co-conspirators in ongoing contributory violations of the 1976 Copyright Act, since each of the thousands of tourist photographs posted online of couples duped into recreating the pose constitutes a new instance of vicarious copyright infringement.

    • Putting at risk for damages taxpayer money from Sarasota’s tourist-driven “bed-tax” as well as the profits of the private restaurant / marina that uses Time’s Inc.’s intellectual property as a tourist “attraction”.

Permission was neither sought nor received for the intoxicated sailor’s actions, or the use of Alfred Eisenstaedt’s image to create a deceptive play-along perpetual assault re-enactment scene

So, as writers, artists, architects, photographers, musicians, and those who value the Constitutional right to the fruits of creation and rights to bodily autonomy, we ask that Meredith, Inc. perform its ESG role by exercising its exclusive rights as copyright holder of the misappropriated image to sue the city of Sarasota to compel the removal of Seward Johnson’s pirated violation from public display.



Support now
Signatures: 632Next Goal: 1,000
Support now

Decision Makers

  • Meredith Corporation (owner of Time Inc. and the Time/Life photo library)