Supreme Court rules against Andy Warhol Foundation in copyright case over Prince photo

FAN Editor

In this 1976 file photo, pop artist Andy Warhol smiles in New York. A federal appeals court sided with a photographer Friday, March 26, 2021, in her copyright dispute over how a foundation has marketed a series of Andy Warhol works of art based on her pictures of Prince.

Richard Drew | AP

The Supreme Court on Thursday ruled against the Andy Warhol Foundation in a copyright dispute over the use of a celebrity photographer’s image of the musician Prince for artwork created by Warhol.

The court ruled 7-2 in favor of the photographer, Lynn Goldsmith, who owns the copyright for her 1981 photo of Prince, which had been published at the time in the magazine Newsweek. Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote the majority opinion.

Justice Elena Kagan wrote a dissent to the decision, in which Chief Justice John Roberts joined her.

Goldsmith had sued the Andy Warhol Foundation for copyright infringement after the foundation licensed an image called Orange Prince, which utilizes Goldsmith’s image of the musician, to Conde Nast, the parent company of Vanity Fair magazine, in 2016. Orange Prince is one of 16 Warhol silkscreens based on her photo.

In 1984, Goldsmith had granted a limited license to Vanity Fair for the one-time use of the photo as a basis for a Warhol silkscreen, which was used to illustrate an article about Prince that year.

Musician Prince performs onstage at the 36th Annual NAACP Image Awards at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles, March 19, 2005.

Getty Images

A federal district court ruled the Andy Warhol Foundation had not infringed on Goldsmith’s copyright in relicensing the image in 2016, citing derivative applications for artwork as fair use, but that ruling was overturned by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The Supreme Court, in its ruling Thursday, considered the sole question of whether the Warhol Foundation’s claim of so-called fair use of the photo was sufficient to defend against Goldsmith’s claim of copyright infringement because Warhol’s artwork was “transformative” and conveyed a different meaning or message than the original photo.

“Lynn Goldsmith’s original works, like those of other photographers, are entitled to copyright protection, even against famous artists,” the Supreme Court said in the majority opinion. “Such protection includes the right to prepare derivative works that transform the original.”

The opinion goes on to say, “The use of a copyrighted work may nevertheless be fair if,
among other things, the use has a purpose and character that is sufficiently distinct from the original.”

“In this case, however, Goldsmith’s original photograph of Prince, and AWF’s copying use of that photograph in an image licensed to a special edition magazine devoted to Prince, share substantially the same purpose, and the use is of a commercial nature.”

Free America Network Articles

Leave a Reply

Next Post

Suspect pleads not guilty in murder of Cash App founder Bob Lee

Suspect pleads not guilty in murder of Cash App founder Bob Lee – CBS News Watch CBS News Nima Momeni, the tech executive charged in the stabbing death of Cash App founder Bob Lee last month, appeared in a San Francisco courtroom Thursday, where he pleaded not guilty to murder […]

You May Like