June 8th, 2016

Richard Prince Sued Again (This Time by Photographer Dennis Morris)

An allegedly infringing work from Richard Prince's "Covering Pollack" series.

An allegedly infringing work from Richard Prince’s “Covering Pollack” series.

Photographer Dennis Morris filed a copyright infringement claim last week against appropriation artist Richard Prince in a Los Angeles federal court. The claim is the latest in a growing number of cases filed by photographers accusing Prince of stealing their photos for use as raw material for his artworks.

Morris, who is based in Los Angeles, is charging Prince with unauthorized use of several photographs of Sid Vicious, the lead singer of the Sex Pistols. Gagosian Gallery, which represents Prince, is also named as a defendant in the case.

Morris alleges that Prince copied the Sid Vicious portraits without permission from a biography by David Dalton titled El Sid, Saint Vicious. Prince then made and sold “derivative works” that incorporated the portraits, Morris says in court papers. The derivative works allegedly included an untitled quadtych featuring one of Morris’s Sid Vicious portraits alongside portraits by other photographers of Barbra Streisand, Prince (the recently deceased musician) and Sylvester Stallone.

In addition, Morris alleges that Richard Prince used several other photographs of Sid Vicious without permission in a work from a series titled “Covering Pollack.” Prince created the series in 2010. The allegedly infringing work (above) shows a photo of what appears to be a Jackson Pollack painting-in-progress, papered over with a collage of Sex Pistols band member photos, including Morris’s pictures of Sid Vicious.

Morris is seeking compensation for an unspecified amount of damages resulting from “diversion of trade, loss of income and profits, and a dilution of the value” of rights to the photographs. He is also seeking disgorgement of profits from the sale of the infringing works, and an injunction to bar further unauthorized use of the photographs in question.

Prince has not yet responded to Morris’s lawsuit.

Morris’s claim is strikingly similar to the high-profile lawsuit that photographer Patrick Cariou filed against Prince—and lost. Cariou had accused Prince of misappropriating images from a book called Yes, Rasta. Prince used the Cariou images as raw material for a series called Canal Zone. He and Gagosian earned more than $10 million on the sale of works from that series.

In 2012, the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in New York ruled that most of the disputed works in the Canal Zone series qualified as fair use of Cariou’s photographs because Prince transformed them with “an entirely different esthetic.” Prince was forced to settle with Cariou over the unauthorized use of several of images, however.

Although Prince will almost certainly invoke the Cariou ruling in his defense against Morris’s claim, rulings from the Second Circuit Court of Appeals are not binding in the Los Angeles court, which is in the Ninth Circuit.

Related:
Photographer Sues Richard Prince Over Instagram Rip-Offs…At Last
“SuicideGirls” Deliver Cleverest Response to Richard Prince Instagram Appropriation
Richard Prince Did Not Infringe Patrick Cariou’s Photos, Appeals Court Says
Is the Fair Use Defense Just for Rich and Famous Appropriation Artists?

January 4th, 2016

Photographer Sues Richard Prince Over Instagram Rip-offs… At Last

"Rastafarian Smoking a Joint" ©Donald Graham

“Rastafarian Smoking a Joint” ©Donald Graham

Photographer Donald Graham has sued appropriation artist Richard Prince and his gallerist Lawrence Gagosian for copyright infringement of a photo that appeared without Graham’s authorization on Instagram, and then in a gallery exhibition of Prince’s appropriation work.

Prince drew public complaints and vitriol last year for unauthorized reproduction, display and sale of a series of 67 x 55-inch inkjet prints of Instagram “screen saves” of images by other artists and photographers. But Graham is the first to sue.

The Los Angeles-based photographer filed suit in federal court in New York on December 30, alleging unauthorized use of a 1996 photograph (shown here) of a Rastafarian man lighting a joint. Graham alleges in his claim that a third party posted his photograph on Instagram without permission, and that Prince copied and enlarged that unauthorized photo and displayed it as part of his 2014 “New Portraits” exhibition.

Graham’s complaint calls Prince out for “his blatant disregard for copyright law” and goes on to say that “Mr. Prince consistently and repeatedly has incorporated others’ works” into his own works, without permission, credit or compensation. (more…)

December 22nd, 2015

PDN Pulse: Top Photo News Stories of 2015

From photographer contract restrictions to instagram apps, and from copyright infringements to a changing code of ethics, this year’s list of the most-read articles on PDNPulse capture some of the highs and lows of the photography business this year.

A photo posted by SuicideGirls ? (@suicidegirls) on

1“SuicideGirls” Deliver Cleverest Response to Richard Prince’s Instagram Appropriation 

The band was cheered for their response to artist Richard Price’s appropriation of their images from Instagram. The brand’s founder, Missy Suicide (also known as Selena Mooney) announced the band would sell for $90 the same images Price and his gallery, Gagosian, are alleged to have copied and then sold for $90,000. Price sold the images at the Frieze Art Fair in New York and at Gagosian’s Beverly Hills gallery.

2 & 3– Photographer Calls Out Taylor Swift for Apple Hypocrisy and Swift Agrees to Change Contract 

Taylor Swift headlines raked in clicks all across the internet this year, but it was the fine print in her contract with freelance concert photographers that drew readers to PDN. In late June, the singer’s management company, Firefly Entertainment, Inc., released a contract that limited photographers from running their photographs more than once, even for news purposes. In July, the management company revised the contract, removing and revising some of elements that photographers had found objectionable.

4– Controversial World Press Photo Winner Under New Scrutiny Today

In March, questions about the authenticity of photographer Giovanni Trolio’s series, “The Dark Heart of the Europe,” winner of a 1st prize in the 2015 World Press Photo competition, generated buzz when another photographer claimed that the images may have been staged. Ultimately, World Press Photo withdrew the award on the grounds that the story was not captioned in compliance with the entry rules. In November, World Press announced that the 2016 World Press Photo contest will be carried out with a new code of ethics to reflect an effort at reform and transparency in the wake of the scandal.

5– How to Kill Restrictive Concert Photography Contracts

In the wake of the backlash against Taylor Swift’s management company for its contract restricting photographers’ image usage (see 2 & 3), Norwegian photographer Jarle Moe wrote a blog post posing a solution: Photographers could end restrictive contracts if they identified themselves  “journalists,” not “concert photographers.”

6– If You’re Using This Instagram App, Delete It 

When the popular Instagram app InstaAgent was reported to be storing Instagram users’ passwords and usernames and sending them in plain text to a remote server, PDN encouraged readers using the app to delete it.

7– Ilford Offers Glimpse into the Mind of the 21st Century Film Photographer

Think film is dead? Black-and-white film supplier Ilford released findings from a study of of film-users showing that film is still a viable – and resurging – medium in the photography world. The company surveyed “thousands” of film users across 70 countries to understand who uses film and why. Notable in the findings was that 30 percent of respondents were under the age of 35, and that 60 percent of them said they had picked up film photography over the past five years.

8How Photographers With Huge Followings Grew Their Social Networks

October’s PhotoPlus Expo #Trending panel consisted of four photographers—Sue Bryce, Vincent Laforet, Jeremy Cowart and Chase Jarvis—with sizable social media followings. The panelists offered their advice, suggestions and experiences on how photographers can build and maintain their social network, such as making posts that are honest, positive, and have something of value to share with the world.

9NYT Mag Hires Male Photographer for Sexism in Hollywood Cover Story

In November, The New York Times Magazine ran a cover story discussing the challenges women face working in the male-dominated world of Hollywood. However, to shoot the cover, which featured portraits of 60 female actors, directors and executives, The New York Times Magazine hired a male photographer.  That irony inspired in an outpouring of social media posts from women photographers expressing their disappointment. Director of photography for The New York Times Magazine Kathy Ryan told PDN that women photographers shouldn’t “think that somehow there aren’t opportunities [at the magazine], because I feel very passionately that there are, and that’s important to us: To have women’s points of view, that diversity, that range in our pages is important.”

10 – Why TIME Chose an Amateur Photographer’s Image for Its Cover 

The May 11 issue of TIME Magazine had a cover bearing an image of protests in Baltimore taken by a 26-year-old amateur photographer, Devin Allen, who had only two years of experience under his belt. This marks the third time in the magazine’s history that it has used an amateur’s image on the cover. In explaining the decision to use Allen’s image, TIME deputy director of photography Paul Moakley noted that Allen is a Baltimore native, and, “He was being really thoughtful and was capturing both sides of what was happening.”

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May 27th, 2015

“SuicideGirls” Deliver Cleverest Response to Richard Prince’s Instagram Appropriation

Today the adult lifestyle brand SuicideGirls issued an applause-worthy response to artist Richard Prince’s appropriation of their images: The brand’s founder, Missy Suicide, also known as Selena Mooney, announced the brand would sell for $90 the same images Prince and his gallery, Gagosian, are alleged to have sold for $90,000 at the Frieze Art Fair in New York and at Gagosian’s Beverly Hills gallery.

The print specs on the SuicideGirls images are equivalent to Prince’s pieces: 67×55-inches, inkjet printed on canvas. SuicideGirls even did a bit of appropriation of their own, incorporating the Prince comments that were the only addition the artist made to the images he appropriated. SuicideGirls also included a sly comment of their own under Prince’s: “true art,” it reads.

Prince was already notorious among photographers for his copying of other photographers’ work (and his 2013 victory in the copyright infringement case brought by photographer Patrick Cariou). A lot of vitriol has been directed at the artist and his gallery since he started selling images he found on Instagram, but Mooney avoided any legal arguments when she announced the sale. (more…)

October 1st, 2014

Is the Fair Use Defense Just for Rich and Famous Appropriation Artists?

Richard Prince earned millions appropriating and manipulating Patrick Cariou's "Yes, Rasta" images. Prince's fame as an artist arguably enabled him to get away with it.

Richard Prince earned millions appropriating and manipulating Patrick Cariou’s “Yes, Rasta” images. His fame as an artist arguably enabled him to get away with it on fair use grounds.

Fair Use may be turning into a legal refuge primarily for “rich and fabulous” artists, according to a recent University of Chicago Law Review article by two Stanford scholars. They reached that conclusion by analyzing Patrick Cariou v. Richard Prince and other copyright disputes between artists over the past decade.

“This shift in fair use has predominantly protected big name defendants who appropriate from small name artists,” Andrew Gilden, one of the authors, told American Public Media’s Marketplace program on Monday.

The Marketplace report, by Sabri Ben-Achour, went on to say that in visual art copyright cases over the past decade, the wealthier artist has usually prevailed. “They’ve won defending against claims they copied someone else’s work, and they’ve won pursuing others for copying their work,” Ben-Achour reported.

Gilden and his co-author, Timothy Greene, argue in their law review article that wealthy artists prevail in part because of the high cost of defending an infringement claim on fair use grounds–something many work-a-day artists can’t afford. But wealthy artists also prevail, Gilden and Greene argue, because there is a cultural presumption that works are “transformative” when they appropriate material from unknown artists, then sell for high prices to an exclusive market. (Whether a disputed work “transforms” the original work is a primary test for a finding of fair use.)

Cariou v. Prince, for instance, was a dispute over a series of paintings and collages by Prince that appropriated images from Cariou’s book Yes, Rasta without permission. Most of Prince’s works eventually sold, fetching a total of  $10.4 million. Prince successfully fended off Cariou’s copyright infringement claim on fair use grounds, testifying in the process that Cariou’s work was just raw material for his own work.

But the argument for transformation doesn’t work in the other direction, i.e., when unknown artists appropriate from better-known artists and then argue that they’ve created a transformative work. That’s because works by famous artists just don’t seem like raw material to juries, judges or average citizens.

The illustrative case Gilden and Greene analyze in their article is Salinger v. Colting. J. D. Salinger sued Fredrik Colting, a little-known author, over Colting’s novel called 60 Years Later: Coming Through the Rye. Colting borrowed story lines and characters from Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye,  pretty much doing what Prince did when he appropriated Cariou’s work, Gilden and Greene suggest. But unlike Prince, Colting lost his case. (Both cases were finally adjudicated in the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, which is in New York.)

As Gilden and Greene put it in their article, “Cariou makes fair use fairer for some, but there’s a real risk its virtues won’t be available to all.”

Related:
Richard Prince Did Not Infringe Patrick Cariou’s Photos, Appeals Court Says
S
upreme Court Declines to Hear Patrick Cariou’s Copyright Claim Against Richard Prince
Richard Prince Settles with Photographer Patrick Cariou

March 19th, 2014

Richard Prince Settles with Photographer Patrick Cariou

One of Patrick Cariou's photographs, altered by Richard Prince

A fair use alteration of one of Patrick Cariou’s photographs, by Richard Prince.

Artist Richard Prince has paid an undisclosed sum of money to photographer Patrick Cariou to tie up the loose ends of their five-year copyright battle, The New York Times has reported.

Prince previously won an appeals court decision in 2013 dismissing most of Cariou’s copyright infringement claims. Cariou had alleged infringement of 30 images from his book Yes, Rasta that Prince had appropriated for a series of paintings. Most of the paintings sold through Prince’s gallery, fetching more than $10 million dollars.

The US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, located in New York City, ruled that 25 of Prince’s works qualified as fair use of Cariou’s photographs because Prince transformed them with “an entirely different esthetic.”

But the appeals court declined to rule on Prince’s fair use defense for the remaining five works, and sent the case back to a lower court for further consideration of Cariou’s claims surrounding those five works.

The settlement resolves Cariou’s claims related to those five works.

The lower court had originally ruled in Cariou’s favor on all of his claims, because Prince wasn’t commenting on Cariou’s photographs or otherwise referencing their original meaning in his paintings; he was simply using Cariou’s photographs as raw material.

The appeals court’s decision favoring Prince remains controversial. While many in the art community have applauded the decision, many photographers contend that it unfairly expanded the boundaries of fair use, and made their images more vulnerable to appropriation as raw material by other artists.

Related:
Supreme Court Declines to Hear Patrick Cariou’s Claim Against Richard Prince
Richard Prince Did Not Infringe Patrick Cariou’s Photos, Appeals Court Says
In Cariou v. Prince, An Appeal to Clarify a Crucial Fair Use Boundary
Appropriation Artist Richard Prince Liable for Infringement, Court Rules

November 12th, 2013

Supreme Court Declines to Hear Patrick Cariou’s Copyright Claim Against Richard Prince

An image from Richard Cariou's book Yes, Rasta, as it was altered by Richard Prince.

An image from Richard Cariou’s book Yes, Rasta, as it was altered by Richard Prince.

The US Supreme Court has declined to review Patrick Cariou’s copyright infringement claim against artist Richard Prince, the Associated Press has reported.

A federal appeals court ruled last spring that artist Richard Prince did not infringe Cariou’s copyrights by reproducing several dozen of Cariou’s images without permission. The appeals court said Prince’s use of Cariou’s images was fair use in most instances, overturning a lower court ruling that had declared Prince liable for infringement.

By refusing to hear the case, the US Supreme Court has effectively let the appeals court decision stand. The high court did not give a reason for its decision.

At issue in the case was a series of paintings and collages that Prince created by appropriating images from Cariou’s book Yes, Rasta. Prince altered the images in various ways for a series of paintings called “Canal Zone,” which he displayed at the Gagosian gallery in New York in 2008. Most of the works eventually sold, fetching a total of $10.4 million.

In its ruling for Prince, The appeals court took a broad view of fair use, finding that Prince’s works qualified as fair use even though they were not intended as commentary on the original works by Cariou. The decision was a victory for appropriation artists, who take elements of works by other artists without permission, and use them in new contexts, often as a form of commentary on society or popular culture.

Related:
Richard Prince Did Not Infringe Patrick Cariou’s Photos, Appeals Court Says

April 25th, 2013

Richard Prince Wins Appeal; Court Overturns Infringement Ruling

A federal appeals court has ruled that artist Richard Prince did not infringe photographer Patrick Cariou’s copyrights by reproducing several dozen of Cariou’s images without permission. The appeals court said 25 out of 30 works by Prince at the center of the dispute made fair use of Cariou’s photographs.

The decision reversed a lower court ruling that held Prince liable for infringement.

Click here for the full story.

May 10th, 2012

The Art of the Steal: Warhol Didn’t Get Away With It. Why Should Richard Prince?

As we’ve reported in our coverage of photographer Patrick Cariou’s infringement claim against Richard Prince, Prince and his defenders argue that appropriation art does little harm to individuals from whom appropriation artists steal their raw materials. Their implied question: Where would civilization be without the great works of appropriation artists like Andy Warhol and Robert Rauschenberg?

Credit The Art Newspaper, a British publication, with taking on that argument. Yesterday they reported that Warhol, Rauschenberg and other big name appropriation artists quit stealing the work of others–and started getting licenses instead–after they got sued once or twice (or five times) for infringement.

“There is growing evidence—albeit rarely reported—that, although these artists may have started out as willing or unwitting outlaws, they decided that possibly infringing other artists’ copyright was legally unwise and potentially expensive, and they stopped,” writes Laura Gilbert for The Art Newspaper.

She reports that Andy Warhol faced lawsuits in the 1960s for unauthorized use of photographs by Patricia Caulfield, Fred Ward, and Charles Moore. He settled the claims out of court, and afterwards started asking for permission before incorporating works by others into his own creations. “He learned a lesson from the lawsuits,” Warhol’s gallerist, Ronald Feldman, told Gilbert.

Robert Rauschenberg was sued in the 1970s for unauthorized use of one of Morton Beebe’s photographs. After settling the suit in 1980, Rauschenberg reportedly quit appropriating the work of other artists. Jeff Koons, another appropriation artist who was famously sued (and lost) over the “String of Puppies” sculpture he copied without permission from a photograph, no longer uses the work of others without permission, his lawyer told The Art Newspaper.

Gilbert cites other examples, too. The message is that former art pirates with big names weren’t above the law, after all, and when they were sued into compliance, it wasn’t the end of appropriation art, much less civilization.

Richard Prince has already been held liable for infringement by a federal trial court judge. His appeal is pending. A victory for Prince, it seems, would put him in a special class of pirates with immunity, pretty much by himself.

Related:
Appropriation Artist Richard Prince Liable for Infringement, Court Rules
In Cariou v. Prince, an Appeal to Clarify a Crucial Fair Use Boundary

May 9th, 2012

Jeff Wall Photograph Fetches Artist Record $3.6 Million at Auction

"Dead Troops Talk (A vision after an ambush of a Red Army patrol, near Moqor, Afghanistan, winter 1986," © Jeff Wall.

A 1992 photograph by Jeff Wall sold for $3,666,500 yesterday evening during a Post-War and Contemporary art auction at Christie’s in New York City. The previous record sale for a work by Jeff Wall was $1.1 million.

The work “Dead Troops Talk (A vision after an ambush of a Red Army patrol, near Moqor, Afghanistan, winter 1986” depicts a grisly scene in which Soviet Red Army soldiers killed by the Afghan mujahideen have come back to life and are conversing with one another.

The photograph, framed in a light box, was the first in an edition of two, with one artist’s print. The photograph has been in the collection of David and Geraldine Pincus, who acquired it from Marian Goodman Gallery in New York. The Pincus’s substantial collection formed a major part of the sale, which set a record for a Post-War and Contemporary art sale at $388.5 million, according to Christie’s.

The high lot in the sale was Mark Rothko’s “Orange, Red, Yellow,” which sold for $86.9 million, another record for a work from the Post-War period.

Three other photographs were included in the sale. A Richard Prince work that appropriated a Marlboro advertisement, “Untitled (Cowboys),” sold for $602,500. Cindy Sherman’s “Untitled #122” sold for $206,500. And Nan Goldin’s “Ballad Triptych” sold for $218,500.

Related: Eggleston’s First-Ever Large Pigment Prints Earn 5.9 Million at Auction