Supreme Court hears Andy Warhol ‘Prince Series’ case

Court papers showing Andy Warhol silkscreen

Court papers show the silks from Andy Warhol’s “Prince Series”, based on photographs by photographer Lynn Goldsmith.

The US Supreme Court has agreed to consider fair use in a case involving the singer’s decades-old silk sheet. Prince by pop artist Andy Warhol.

The incident stemmed from a series of 1984 Warhol paintings using the photographer’s 1981 painting Lynn Goldsmith of the late musician. Vanity Fair The magazine commissioned Warhol to create an image of Prince using Goldsmith’s photo for a story about Prince’s status as a pop icon.

Warhol cropped Goldsmith’s photograph of Prince — a black-and-white portrait of the singer looking directly into the camera — and used it as the basis for 16 recognizable pop-art silkscreen images. Warhol’s will be called the “Prince Series. ”

Like Law & Crime previous report, Vanity Fair did not tell Goldsmith that Warhol would be creating a new work based on her painting of Prince, and she did not know about the series until Prince’s death in 2016. When she told Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts that the series infringed her copyright in the 1981 photograph, the Warhol Foundation issued a preemptive strike, asking a federal court in 2017 to declare that Prince silkscreens are protected. under the fair use doctrine.

That doctrine extends legal protections to a work of art based on an existing work if the new work is “transformative,” meaning it conveys a different “meaning or message” from the original work. its original material.

Jewelers protested, alleging copyright infringement, and in 2019 the United States Court for the Southern District of New York announced in favor of the Warhol Foundation. The process of cropping Warhol’s image to focus on the Prince’s face, resizing, changing the angle of his head, and adding color layers, US District Judge John Koeltl was found, which “transformed” Goldsmith’s intimate description into “an iconic, larger-than-life figure”, stripping the Prince of the Prince’s image of “the embodiment… of humanity…[d] in [the] Photograph.”

The Warhol Foundation says the Prince Series is a “commentary on the ways in which society encounters and consumes celebrities.”

Goldsmith appealed and Second Circuit ruled in 2021 that the Prince Series was clearly unqualified for fair use, allowing her lawsuit against the Warhol Foundation to continue.

Senior Judge of the United States Gerard LynchOne Barack Obama appointee, wrote to Second Circuit that Koeltl’s analysis relied too much on one’s perception of the work and that that could lead to abuses of fair use claims in art based on existing works.

“Although it may have been Goldsmith’s subjective intention to portray Prince as a ‘vulnerable human being’ and Warhol to strip Prince of that humanity and instead display him as a universal icon, variable, even if an adaptation cannot be based solely on what is stated or perceived by the artist’s intent or the meaning or impression that a critic — or for that matter, a judge — drawn from the work,” Lynch wrote. “If it were the other way around, the law would probably recognize it[e] any change as transform. ‘”

On Monday, the Supreme Court accepted the Warhol Foundation’s request for a written certification to settle the matter.

Warhol Foundation representatives were pleased with the certification.

“We welcome the Supreme Court’s decision to allow review in this case,” Roman Martinez, an attorney at Latham & Watkins, which represents the Warhol Foundation, said in a statement to Law & Crime. “The ‘fair use’ doctrine plays an essential role in protecting the freedom of artistic expression and upholding core First Amendment values. We look forward to presenting our arguments to the Court and hope they will recognize that Andy Warhol’s morphing artworks are fully protected by law.”

Andy Gassanother Latham & Watkins attorney who focuses on copyright practice, says the lawsuit is more than just a fight involving two art legends.

“The ‘fair use’ doctrine has for centuries been the cornerstone of creativity in our culture,” Gass said in the statement. protection it offers to everyone — from the Andy Warhols of the world, to those just starting their own journey of discovery and innovation.”

A representative for Goldsmith did not immediately respond to Law & Crime’s request for comment.

Documents in the case Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts sues Lynn Goldsmith can be found this.

[Images via court documents.]

Is there a trick we should know? [email protected] Supreme Court hears Andy Warhol ‘Prince Series’ case

James Brien

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