Infographic | Copyright legal dispute
copyright legal dispute
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The legal battle started in 2017 between the estate of Andy Warhol and photographer Lynn Goldsmith, over the use of Goldsmith’s images of the late musician Prince.
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Goldsmith did a photoshoot of Prince in 1981.

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In 1984, Vanity Fair licensed one of her black-and-white studio portraits for $400 and commissioned Warhol to create a piece for a feature of Prince. He used a cropped photo based on one of Goldsmith’s images to create his artwork.

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The photographer became aware of the use of her photograph in 2016 when Prince died, and the Andy Warhol Foundation licensed the use of Warhol’s “Prince Series” to use in a magazine commemorating his life.

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There was no image copyright credit or compensation to Lynn Goldsmith.

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The photographer threatened to sue the Foundation alleging copyright infringement. In April 2017 the Andy Warhol Foundation sued Goldsmith for a declaration of non-infringement.

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She countersued for copyright infringement declaring that the paintings weren’t transformative. 

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In July 2019 a District Judge in Manhattan stated that Warhol’s works were of fair use, but in March 2021, a three-judge panel in the New York Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, reversed the ruling and sided with Goldsmith.

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In May 2021 the Andy Warhol Foundation filed a petition with the Supreme Court to decide “whether a work of art is transformative when it conveys a different meaning or message from its source material”. 

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The Supreme Court heard an oral argument in October 2022 and a decision from the court is expected in May or June 2023.