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.
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