| NEW YORK, April 25
NEW YORK, April 25 In a closely watched case in
the art world, American artist Richard Prince won a federal
appeals court order Thursday holding that he did not infringe
the copyrights of a photographer by incorporating his images
into 25 paintings and collages.
The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York reversed a
lower court's finding that Prince must hand over artwork using
the photos to Patrick Cariou, whose pictures of Rastafarians in
Jamaica were incorporated into art, exhibited in 2007 and 2008.
"These twenty-five of Prince's artworks manifest an entirely
different aesthetic from Cariou's photographs," U.S. Circuit
Judge Barrington Parker wrote.
The court battle has been considered a test to what extent
the appropriation of artists' works is protected from claims of
The appeal drew friend-of-the-court briefs from a wide range
of parties, from the Whitney Museum of American Art to Google
Inc, which warned the lower court's ruling deviated
from standard copyright analysis in "dangerous" ways.
The ruling is a "huge win for Richard Prince and an entire
genre of modern art," said Anthony Falzone, a lawyer for The
Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, which filed a brief
"It recognizes the broad range of meaning that artists
create by incorporating existing images into their work," he
Prince is a prominent appropriation artist and photographer
whose works have appeared in New York's Guggenheim Museum and
the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
Joshua Schiller, a lawyer for Prince at Boies, Schiller &
Flexner, said his client was pleased with Thursday's ruling.
A lawyer for Cariou did not immediately respond to requests
Cariou sued Price and the Gagosian Gallery in December 2008
after learning about a show held at the gallery featuring 22
works from a series Prince titled Canal Zone. Thirty of the
pieces Prince created for the series incorporated all or part of
photos by Cariou that appeared in a 2000 book, "Yes Rasta."
Some of Prince's works sold for more than $2 million. He
sold eight for $10.5 million and traded seven others for works
by painter Larry Rivers and sculptor Richard Serra, according to
the appeals court decision.
Prince argued that his use of the photographs was protected
under the theory of fair use, saying his work was
Thursday's ruling reverses an order by U.S. District Court
Deborah Batts in Manhattan, who had concluded that Prince was
not protected from liability because his paintings did not
"comment on" or critically refer back to the original works.
The appeals court sent the dispute over five of Prince's
works back to the trial court to determine whether some
alterations were enough to avoid a finding of infringement.
Hollis Gonerka Bart, a lawyer for the Gagosian Gallery and
owner Larry Gagosian, said the case will now likely proceed as a
trial on the five remaining works. Her client intends to "defend
vigorously" itself, she said.