Andy Warhol’s Prince Pictures Violate Copyright, Supreme Court Rules


In a decision that could have major repercussions in the copyright world, the Supreme Court ruled Thursday: Prince created by Andy Warhol Photos based on photos taken by Lynn Goldsmith were infringing her copyright. CNN and multiple news sources.

The decision was 7-2.

The court dismissed the late Warhol’s foundation’s claims that the work was sufficiently transformative and did not violate copyright laws. While the piece was created in the 1980s, Thursday’s verdict Artificial intelligence with wide copyright implications on what constitutes originality. From soapboxes to iconic photographs, Warhol freely incorporated many photographs, logos, and other forms of art into his works.

It also follows the following: Earlier this month, Ed Sheeran’s song “Thinking Out Loud” Although the chords and tempos of the songs are similar, it did not infringe the copyright of Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get It On”.

“Goldsmith’s original work, like that of other photographers, has copyright protection even against famous artists. Such protection includes the right to make derivative works that transform the original,” wrote Judge Sonia Sotomayor in the majority opinion.

In opposition to Judge Elena Kagan, joined by Chief Justice John Roberts, she wrote: “It will stifle creativity of any kind. It will hinder new art, music and literature. It will hinder the expression of new ideas and the attention of new knowledge. It will make our world poorer.”

At the heart of the case is the “fair use” doctrine in copyright law, which allows for unlicensed use of copyrighted works in certain situations, such as the meaning, message, and their conversion.

Warhol originally created the silk screen images for the 1984 Vanity Fair article about Prince, based on photographs taken by Goldsmith three years earlier. Copyright issues took effect after Warhol’s image was reused by Conde Nast, owner of Vanity Fair, following Prince’s death in 2016.

In 2019, a federal judge ruled that images of Warhol “transformed Prince from a vulnerable, disturbed person into an iconic, larger-than-life figure.” However, two years later a federal appeals court overturned that decision, leading to a Supreme Court case. That court held that Warhol’s “signature style” was not sufficiently transformative of Goldsmith’s image and did not create a “fundamentally different and new” work.

Recording Industry Assn. of America and National Music Publishers Assn. has long advocated for a copyright infringement decision in this case. On Thursday, NMPA chairman/CEO David Israelite said in a statement:

“Today’s Warhol Foundation decision is a huge victory for songwriters and music publishers. This is a significant gain that hinders the expansion of fair use defenses based on transformative use claims. Allows songwriters and music publishers to better protect their work from unauthorized use; this is something that will continue to be challenged in unprecedented ways in the age of AI.

“As we highlight in our Fellowship dossier, copyright owners should have the right to decide or approve new, redesigned uses of their work. This decision improves our ability to protect songwriters from the ever-wider range of claims from people who would violate fair use, how creators’ art will be used and how they will be used. strengthens their right to determine their value.”

RIAA CEO Mitch Glazier said: “We applaud the Supreme Court’s thoughtful and thoughtful decision that claims of ‘transformative use’ cannot undermine the fundamental rights granted to all creators under the Copyright Act. Lower courts have misinterpreted fair use for too long, and we are grateful. “The Court has reaffirmed the fundamental purposes of copyright. We hope that those who rely on distorted and discredited ‘transformative use’ allegations, such as those who are using copyrighted works without authorization to train AI systems, will reconsider their practices in light of this important decision.”

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