Remember artist Richard Prince? If you don’t know him by name, you’ll know him by scandal. Two years ago, Prince launched a series of photos titled, "New Portraits," which by-and-large consisted of stealing photographers’ work and uploading it to his own Instagram profile, after which he screen-shot the results and printed them out, calling it his own art. Unsurprisingly, his controversial series led to four lawsuits against him. Now, he’s facing a fifth lawsuit involving a photograph of Sonic Youth musician Kim Gordon.
Photographer Eric McNatt was enlisted by Paper Magazine to shoot Gordon for the band's 30th anniversary issue back in 2014. Prince is once again up to his usual antics, this time selecting the main photo from the set of Gordon's shoot. McNatt’s photo assistant from this very shoot admitted that the creative team wasn't paid for the project and made comparisons of Prince's work to music piracy, relating to Gordon's fans illegally downloading her music. Undoubtedly, the lack of payment for the original shoot coupled with the fact Prince is profiting from the piece makes the situation even more infuriating.
What’s more, Gordon has only added fuel to the fire by uploading a photo of herself holding Prince’s artwork – and thanking him for it.
Prince’s legal team, however, is confident he has done nothing wrong in legal terms. An extract from their statement reads:
[McNatt’s] complaint fundamentally misunderstands the case law on fair use and how the exemption from the monopoly of rights granted under the copyright statute applies.
They’d be likely to know, since Prince has been through this process several times before. He previously lifted images of a range of different women from their own Instagram accounts. He enlarged the photos and then added a few comments and emojis before selling the work as his own, sometimes for as much as $100,000. Prince has even managed to win court cases filed against him due to rulings that state Prince’s works to be "transformative, and thus fair use."
Is it fair that he can profit from other people’s works in this way?
[via Paper Magazine]