Salem, OR asked in Consumer Law, Contracts, Copyright and Products Liability for Oregon

Q: I won an abandoned storage unit in PDX owned by a film company. Can I sell the manuscripts/ reels/ photos back to them?

The unit contained not only the manuscripts/reels/files/notes/art for most of the films they have ever produced, but I have over 20,000 personal family photos dating back to the 1920's, and original artwork of a locally famous painter related to the films studio owner.

I want to contact the family of the film studio owner with an offer to buy the photos and other personal effects. Would this be legal? If not, can I sell these items to museums and other interested parties?

I won the storage unit in an auction

1 Lawyer Answer
Mr. Michael O. Stevens
Mr. Michael O. Stevens
  • Products Liability Lawyer
  • Hillsboro, OR
  • Licensed in Oregon

A: The items are now your personal property. Keep in mind you only have the property rights, so some items would have intellectual property rights to them (for instance copyright on the manuscript) so you just own that copy, not the rights to the films.

The one thing to keep in mind, is if you do contact them, it could open a can of worms in that perhaps the studio was not properly informed of the sale or it was somehow defective, and they try to get the items back.

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