Friday, August 19, 2022

“Richard Prince’s working methods…apparently not an ‘aesthetic alteration'”

Images in question in the Graham v. Prince copyright infringement case.

Images in question in the Graham v. Prince copyright infringement case.

We noted last month that the copyright infringement suit against Richard Prince is moving forward.

Here’s an interesting article co-authored by copyright guru, Bob Clarida (and Robert Bernstein), on the strategic aspect of Prince asking the court to dismiss Donald Graham’s claim because Prince’s use Graham’s copyrighted photograph was outright fair use. The court declined to do so, and Clarida and Bernstein note the court’s 27-page opinion. [Note: article isn’t free]

In part, they conclude with this: “But the appropriated nature of the Prince work—the “transformative context” it allegedly occupies by virtue of Prince’s working methods—is apparently not an ‘aesthetic alteration’ that the Graham court was willing to credit at all.”

Apparently, and certainly at this stage of litigation, a few words added to an appropriated image is not enough. This doesn’t bode well for those that argue that change of context–i.e., taking a photo from a magazine and putting it within the walls of an art museum–is, per se, fair use.


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