Archive for June 2011
22 Jun, 2011 | Posted by: st
Photographer Successfully Sues
Appropriation Artist for
By Joel L. Hecker,Esq
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, the well known appropriation artist, his gallery, and the gallery’s principal, have all been found to be guilty of copyright infringement in connection with Prince’s paintings which copied professional photographer Patrick Cariou’s
copyrighted photographs of Rastafarians
in Jamaica. This important case was brought in the Federal Court in New York. The court’s decision was rendered on March 18, 2011.
Cariou spent a considerable amount of time with Rastafarians in Jamaica over the course of some six years. As a result, he gained their trust and was able to take their photographic portraits. In 2000, he published a book of his Rastafarian photographs titled, Yes, Rasta.
Cariou testified about the creative choices he made (as is customary for professional photographers), including equipment used, staging and composing individual photos and techniques and processes. He was also heavily involved in the layout, editing, and printing of the book.
Prince is a well known and highly successful “appropriation artist.”
His work has been shown at numerous museums and other institutions, including a solo show at the Guggenheim Museum in New York City.
Defendant Gagosian Gallery is an art dealer and gallery, which represents Prince and markets his art. Defendant Lawrence Gagosian is the Gallery’s president, founder, and owner.
Between December 2007 through February 2008, Prince showed some of his artwork in St. Barts, including a collage entitled “Canal Zone (2007)”
(“Canal Zone”) which consisted of a collage of thirty-five photographs literally torn from Cariou’s book and attached to a wooden backer board. Prince painted over some portions of thirty-five photographs, using some of them in their entirety and some partially. Portions of the collage were also reproduced in a magazine article about Prince’s show at the Gagosian Gallery.
Prince admitted using at least forty-one photos from Yes, Rasta as elements of his Canal Zone paintings.
Fair Use Analysis
The primary defense raised by the defendants was that Prince’s use of the photos was a fair use under the Copyright Act and therefore entitled to protection.
The purpose of fair use is to address the inevitable tension between the property rights established under copyright’s purpose “to promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts” as contained in the U.S. Constitution and the ability of authors to express themselves by referencing the work of others. The doctrine of fair use consists of a four-factor test.
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