Skip to navigation

Email walt@lehmannplc.com, or call (651) 789-0550

Legal protection for creative professionals, cultural institutions, and non-profits

Our clients

We are committed to supporting and protecting the value of your work. Our focus is to find the best legal options available for you in your particular situation.

Client stories

Artist's story: Museum trashes work of art

The scenario

Sculptor Michael Hunt Stolbach was referred to Lehmann PLC by the Pennsylvania Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts. Stolbach had donated a mixed-media piece to the Albright College museum in memory of a friend. The papier mache piece depicted a mummy covered with obituaries of AIDS victims inside a house made from a copy of the U.S. Constitution. For a time, the work was displayed by the museum, but months later Stolbach was told his work had been thrown away. Stolbach got in touch with us at Lehmann PLC to ask whether he had any claim against the museum for destroying his work.

Our solution

The fact that it was a museum which destroyed the work was particularly shocking to us. Museum curators should know better — destroying a work of art violates the museum’s mission to preserve the works in its collection. Armed with Lehmann PLC’s legal recommendation, Stolbach approached the litigation firm, Morgan Lewis & Bockius to take his case pro bono.

Producer’s Story: Station threatens to not air producer’s show

The scenario

Tom Philips contacted us regarding a program he produced about the growing bear population in suburban New Jersey. The show was controversial and was receiving lots of press coverage. NJN Public Television, which had originally agreed to air the program, was now getting cold feet. Two of the wildlife experts interviewed in the program did not want the show to air. They claimed the appearance releases they had signed were inadequate. They were threatening to sue if the program was aired. Employees at NJN Public Television were also saying the appearance releases for the program were flawed and the station should not air the program for that reason.

Our solution

Philips wanted to know if the appearance releases he used — standard for this kind of programming — gave him the right to broadcast the interviews. More importantly, Philips asked what we could do to reassure NJN Public Television and protect his ability to seek other broadcast venues for the program. After reviewing the appearance releases, we drafted a strongly-worded letter to the CEO of NJN Public Television. This letter addressed the alleged deficiencies in the appearance releases and explained the protections available to NJN Public Television (including the producer’s representations and warranties and errors and omissions insurance coverage). We pointed out the statements by NJN employees about the releases could harm our client’s ability to exploit the program and could expose the station to legal liability. Our letter was effective. The program was broadcast and has received 12 television industry awards including five Tellys.

Museum’s story: Curator questions copyright ownership

The scenario

The Goldstein Museum of Design houses a permanent collection of costumes, decorative arts, graphic design, and textiles. The museum’s textile curator submitted a grant application to fund an exhibit of costumes. Some of the costumes were made by well-known fashion designers while others were homemade or their origin was not fully documented. Asked by the grantor how the museum intended to address issues of copyright ownership in the costumes, the museum curator contacted Lehmann PLC for advice.

Our solution

We explained that historically, recognition of a copyright in utilitarian designs has been extremely limited. Although there is legislation pending in Congress to address the specific issue of clothing design, currently there are no provisions in the US Copyright Act which specifically address copyright in clothing designs. Given the circumstances, we discussed what “best practices” would be appropriate. As a result, the curator was able to assure the grantor that their concerns about copyright protection would be adequately addressed.

Non-profit’s story: Founder establishes tax-exempt status

The scenario

While reading the paper one afternoon, Walter Lehmann came across an article about the Lancaster Film Commission. Walter contacted Jay Ingram, the executive director, who explained that he founded the organization and needed help establishing its tax-exempt status.

Our solution

We drafted and filed the necessary documents, including articles, bylaws, and a conflict of interest policy. Then we prepared and filed an application for federal tax exemption under 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, which was accepted by the IRS with no substantial changes. The Lancaster Film Commission now provides a variety of services to film producers in central Pennsylvania, including location scouting, local permitting assistance, and other consulting services.