Harvard Loses Copyright Infringement Case
May 24, 2016 — Thanks to everyone who signed and commented on this petition. The good news is that Judge Robert Brack of the United States District Court in New Mexico issued a ruling against Harvard's copyright infringement claims.
Importantly. Judge Brack finds that the Native American designs on the pottery and the form of the pottery are not copyrightable elements of Harvard's photographs: He writes "Here the copyright of "Historic Hopi Ceramics" does not protect against copying the most prominent features in the works: the intricate pottery designs and forms achieved by a Hopi potter, perhaps Nampeyo."
I am sorry that the President and Fellows of Harvard University did not see that their claims were unjustified and over-reaching. Their claims to copyright protection on materials in the public domain and their attempts to copyright and profit from Native American designs that they had no part in creating does them no credit. However, Mr. Elmore is grateful for the court ruling settling this matter.
The breach of contract case is still ongoing and Mr. Elmore's book "In Search of Nampeyo: The Early Years, 1875 - 1892" is still under a temporary injunction and cannot be sold. We are continuing to collect signatures on this petition.
We thank everyone who signed and commented on the petition for their support. This support is so important to keep up our spirits and let us continue the fight. We also thank our legal team, Christopher DeLara and Jonathan Garcia of the Guebert Bruckner law firm in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Here is a link to the "Free Nampeyo" blog giving much more detail about Judge Brack's decision. Earlier blog entries discuss the original copyright infringement charge as well as other aspects of the case.