Supreme Court Rules Andy Warhol’s Prince Image Isn’t Fair Use
A new ruling may have ended the bickering concerning “fair use.”
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled against the late Andy Warhol, who died in 1987, stating he infringed on a copyright of a photograph of the late musician Prince when he used it in 1981 to create a series of silkscreens.
According to CBS News, the ruling was in favor of photographer Lynn Goldsmith, and justices came to a 7-2 decision against The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.
“I am thrilled by today’s decision and thankful to the Supreme Court for hearing our side of the story,” Goldsmith’s legal team said on the photographer’s behalf. “This is a great day for photographers and other artists who make a living by licensing their art. I want to thank the team at Williams & Connolly for sticking with me from the lows to this incredible high.”
The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts also released a statement addressing the ruling.
“We respectfully disagree with the Court’s ruling that the 2016 licensing of Orange Prince was not protected by the fair use doctrine,” the foundation’s president, said Joel Wachs. “At the same time, we welcome the Court’s clarification that its decision is limited to that single licensing and does not question the legality of Andy Warhol’s creation of the Prince Series in 1984. “
CNN reported that a district court ruled in favor of Warhol, arguing the two works reflected different messages but was later reversed by the appeals court that ruled the difference was not enough to qualify as fair use.
Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote in the majority opinion that Goldsmith’s original works are “entitled to copyright protection, even against famous artists.”
“Going forward, we will continue standing up for the rights of artists to create transformative works under the Copyright Act and the First Amendment,” Wachs added in his statement.
Goldsmith contacted the Warhol Foundation after learning of the series of silkscreens. The photographer, who registered her photograph with the US Copyright Office, accused Warhol of copyright infringement. In October, Goldsmith’s and Warhol’s dispute opened up arguments about copyright law and art.