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  • Writer's pictureJoseph Perry, Esq.

SCOTUS Takes Up Andy Warhol Copyright Case

Earlier today, the US Supreme Court announced it will take up a copyright law case involving the art of Andy Warhol. The case seeks to answer whether Warhol's silkscreen prints based on Lynn Goldsmith's photograph of Prince were "transformative" enough to be rendered a fair use.

In the 1980s, Goldsmith took a photograph of Prince while she worked for Newsweek. Goldsmith's agency later licensed the photograph to Vanity Fair, which commissioned Warhol to create a silkscreen print to be used on the cover of Vanity Fair's November 1984 issue. Warhol created fifteen more prints. One of the prints was republished in a Vanity Fair tribute issue to Prince after he died. Goldsmith later sued the Andy Warhol Foundation for copyright infringement. The federal district court stated that Warhol's print was fair use because it was a "stark contrast" to Goldsmith's photos. However, the Second Circuit ruled in favor of Goldsmith, stating that Warhol infringed on Goldsmith's derivative work right.

Many legal commentators and artists believed that the Second Circuit was wrong and wished for SCOTUS to take up the case. SCOTUS will likely hear the case in the fall, so we will have to wait a bit more to hear what they have to say on the matter.


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