Who owns NYC cop’s 9/11 pictures?

Here’s a somewhat interesting copyright battle, courtesy of Gothamist:

A former NYPD detective tapped to take Ground Zero photos by disgraced former Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik won’t make a dime peddling his pictures if the Bloomberg administration gets its way. “Aftermath: Unseen 9/11 Photos by a New York City Cop,” the 200-page work set to hit bookstores at $44.95 next week, features the work of John Botte. Kerik gave the veteran crime-scene photographer “privileged access” to the rescue and recovery efforts immediately following 9/11, according to the book’s jacket.

But city lawyers recently told the book’s publisher, HarperCollins, it plans to sue to recover “all profits” from the book.

“John Botte took all of the pictures in the book using privileged access he received in his capacity as a member of the NYPD, and while being paid by the city,” [a city lawyer] said. “The pictures belong to the city.” . . .

From the way the City is spinning it — in other words, if the facts are indeed what they say, and Botte did this work on company time and at the behest of his boss — this does appear to be a work made for hire, and should indeed be the City’s property. It’s hard to imagine how this could have gotten past ReganBooks, unless you consider, perhaps, this part (link is mine):

Judith Regan, head of ReganBooks, the HarperCollins division in charge of the work, is Kerik’s former mistress.

Is this a case of one sin leading to another?

By Ron Coleman

I write this blog.