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A group of San Francisco muralists have joined with the United Farm Workers and UFW founder Dolores Huerta in a copyright infringement suit against a photo archive company owned by Microsoft Corp.’s Bill Gates. Cervantes v. Corbis, No. C 00 4160. They are charging that Bellevue, Wash.’s Corbis Corp., which sells digital reproductions of fine art and photo images online, is infringing on copyrights and trademarks belonging to the artists, the farm workers’ union and Huerta. Specifically, they are talking about images of murals on buildings in San Francisco’s largely Hispanic Mission District. NO PERMISSION GIVEN One of the murals in question has images of Huerta together with the UFW’s co-founder, the late Cesar Chavez, and the union’s trademark-protected Aztec-style black eagle emblem. Another, “Maestrapeace” on the Women’s Building in San Francisco, honors women’s cultural contributions throughout history. These images are available for sale on the Corbis Web site.com. In some cases, a copyright notice is placed on the page with the image, but the listed copyright owner is not the mural artists, the UFW or Huerta. Instead, the photographer who shot the picture of the mural is listed. Plaintiffs are represented by Robert G. Retana of Burlingame, Calif.’s Cotchett, Pitre & Simon. Retana, a former assistant district attorney in San Francisco, says the suit was filed to halt Corbis’ future sale of these images. In the complaint he filed in federal court in San Francisco on Nov. 9, he charges that the images and trademarks were copied without authorization. Copyrights for all the murals had been registered long before the litigation was begun, and trademark registrations had been granted the union by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, in some cases as early as the 1970s. Muralist Susan K. Cervantes said she learned the images were on Corbis’ site about six months ago. Initially, she went to San Francisco practitioner Brooke Oliver, who had represented the artists in intellectual-property matters in the past. “She couldn’t take on a case of this magnitude by herself,” said Cervantes, so they turned to Cotchett Pitre, best known for its plaintiffs’ securities work. Spokeswoman Michele Glisson said that as a matter of policy, Corbis does not comment on pending litigation.

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