Back in August, we reported on celebrity portrait photographer Lynn Goldsmith (“Goldsmith”), who is suing the estate of Andy Warhol for alleged copyright infringement on the grounds Warhol’s artwork of Prince infringed upon Goldsmith's intellectual property rights.
This week, the US Supreme Court heard oral arguments in respect of the claim. Back in 1981, the magazine Newsweek commissioned Goldsmith to photograph Prince, though did not end up publishing the photographs. Goldsmith retained the licensing to the images for future use. In 1984, Vanity Fair commissioned Andy Warhol to recreate one of those images of Prince, paying Goldsmith a licencing fee to do so.
Goldsmith claims she was unaware Warhol had created additional artwork which fell out of the remit of the licencing agreement. The additional artwork was published by Vanity Fair in 2016. The Supreme Court decision will rest on whether the justices find Warhol’s use of the images falls under the legal doctrine in copyright law called “fair use”.
Closing arguments have been heard and the parties now await a decision. It is to be seen if Warhol’s use of the work will fall under the remit of the fair use defence.
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