All Local Art Gallery Wins Legal Battle

By: Diane Ako

(KHNL) HONOLULU - Hawaiian groups say they've gotten an early Christmas present by winning a legal battle. A judge issued his decision Friday in favor of Island Treasures Art Gallery. At issue- a stained glass image of a hula dancer. Local photographer Kim Taylor Reece tried to sue the art gallery, alleging it is selling an unauthorized copy of one of his photographs.

Hawaiian groups say the hula belongs to everyone and nobody has exclusive right to this pose. 'Ilio'ulaokalani Coalition says it is thrilled to have won a judgment in its favor in Kim Taylor Reece v. Island Treasures Art Gallery, Inc. and Gail Allen, CIVIL NO. 06-00489 JMS/LEK. The Honorable Judge. J. Michael Seabright, U.S. District Judge, signed the Order Denying Plaintiff's (Kim Taylor Reece) Motion for Preliminary Injunction. For further details, you may refer to the full document ,attached. "The Order basically says Kim Taylor Reece's case is weak and hula is not copyrightable," said the attorney for Island Treasures Art Gallery, Camille Kalama, of the Native Hawaiian Legal Corp.

The artist of the controversial piece, and a hula dancer herself, Leialoha Colucci, added, "The 'Ilio'ulaokalani Coalition is extremely pleased with the court's judgment. This is traditional knowledge passed down from generation to generation, and it belongs to us as Native Hawaiian cultural practitioners. For someone to expect to have exclusive rights on our traditional knowledge based on a photograph is unaccceptable, and today's judgment rightfully acknowledges that. This judgment is pono."

"This is a great early Christmas present!" exclaimed Kumu Hula Mapuana DaSilva.

Reece has not returned calls for comment. He can still appeal the judge's decision.