Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Photo Copyright: Oscar Wilde, Richard Prince, and Your Instagram Content; Huffington Post, 3/15/16

Kim Farbota, Huffington Post; Photo Copyright: Oscar Wilde, Richard Prince, and Your Instagram Content:
"Richard Prince, an "appropriation artist" well-known in creative spheres, is showing blown-up screen shots from his Instagram feed in renowned Manhattan galleries. The contemporary counterparts of Wilde's Gilded Age fan base buy the inkjet-on-canvas prints for upwards of $100,000. The original snappers hear through the proverbial grapevine that their filtered selfies are featured in high-end art shows.
Copyright law has evolved markedly in the century separating Richard Prince from Napoleon Sarony. On the shoulders of Andy Warhol and Jeff Koons, Prince has made a decades-long career selling slightly altered versions of other people's images. He evades copyright infringement liability through legal principles that allow certain "transformative works" to make use of copyright-protected materials without the owner's consent. Broadly, a transformative "fair use" alters or recontextualizes the original work for the purpose of commentary, criticism, or parody. All of the pieces in the Instagram-based New Portraits series include Prince's own original "comment" within the captured frame, submitted via his Instagram handle, "richardprince1234". He also enlarges the images and moves them from digital to print media. The original photos, which cover most of the space on the printed canvases, remain otherwise untouched.
Donald Graham, a career photographer whose portrait of a Rastafarian man was involuntarily featured in New Portraits, is not impressed. In a complaint filed in federal court this January, Graham calls Prince's work a "blatant disregard of copyright law". Graham's suit challenges whether Prince's transformations are sufficient to trigger "fair use" protection...
At the intersection of copyright and social media, balancing the benefits of exposure with the risks of theft and appropriation is an evolving challenge."

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