Mural at Amargos Opera House, a remarkable image from what is largely a ghost town: Death Valley Junction, just outside Death Valley National Park in Inyo County, California
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The community, once a dusty mining, railroad, and mill town, was known as Amargosa, after the desert valley that surrounds it. A recreation hall at the northeast end of the complex eventually become the "Amargosa Opera House," decorated with elaborate wall illustrations such as this one. In July of 1968, Marta Becket, an acclaimed New York dancer, mime, actress, and an accomplished painter took charge of what she called the Opera House. She performed there regularly through early 2012 after painstakingly painting images of an entire audience on the walls, including characters who might have attended an opera the 16th century, from royalty to bullfighters, monks and nuns, and ordinary observers.
Credit line: The Jon B. Lovelace Collection of California Photographs in Carol M. Highsmith's America Project, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.
Gift; The Capital Group Companies Charitable Foundation in memory of Jon B. Lovelace; 2012; (DLC/PP-2012:063).
Forms part of: Jon B. Lovelace Collection of California Photographs in Carol M. Highsmith's America Project in the Carol M. Highsmith Archive.
In 2015, documentary photographer Carol Highsmith received a letter from Getty Images accusing her of copyright infringement for featuring one of her own photographs on her own website. It demanded payment of $120. This was how Highsmith came to learn that stock photo agencies Getty and Alamy had been sending similar threat letters and charging fees to users of her images, which she had donated to the Library of Congress for use by the general public at no charge. In 2016, Highsmith has filed a $1 billion copyright infringement suit against both Alamy and Getty stating “gross misuse” of 18,755 of her photographs. “The defendants [Getty Images] have apparently misappropriated Ms. Highsmith’s generous gift to the American people,” the complaint reads. “[They] are not only unlawfully charging licensing fees … but are falsely and fraudulently holding themselves out as the exclusive copyright owner.” According to the lawsuit, Getty and Alamy, on their websites, have been selling licenses for thousands of Highsmith’s photographs, many without her name attached to them and stamped with “false watermarks.” (more: http://hyperallergic.com/314079/photographer-files-1-billion-suit-against-getty-for-licensing-her-public-domain-images/)