In 1984, Goldsmith, a portrait artist, granted Vanity Fair a one-time license to use a Prince photograph to illustrate a story about the musician. Vanity Fair hired Andy Warhol, who made a silkscreen using Goldsmith’s photo. Vanity Fair published the resulting image, crediting Goldsmith for the “source photograph,” and paying her $400. Warhol used Goldsmith’s photograph to derive 15 additional works. In 2016, the Andy Warhol Foundation (AWF) licensed one of those works, “Orange Prince,” to Condé Nast to illustrate a magazine story about Prince. AWF received $10,000. Goldsmith received nothing. When Goldsmith asserted copyright infringement, AWF sued her. The district court granted AWF summary judgment on its assertion of “fair use,” 17 U.S.C. 107. The Second Circuit reversed.
The Supreme Court affirmed, agreeing that the first fair use factor, “the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes,” weighs against AWF’s commercial licensing to Condé Nast. Both the 1984 and the 2016 publications are portraits of Prince used in magazines to illustrate stories about Prince; the “environment[s]” are not “distinct and different.” The 2016 use also is of a commercial nature.
Orange Prince reasonably can be perceived to portray Prince as iconic, whereas Goldsmith’s portrayal is photorealistic but the purpose of that use is still to illustrate a magazine about Prince. The degree of difference is not enough for the first factor to favor AWF. To hold otherwise would potentially authorize a range of commercial copying of photographs, to be used for purposes that are substantially the same as those of the originals. AWF offers no independent justification for copying the photograph. View “Andy Warhol Foundation for Visual Arts, Inc. v. Goldsmith” on Justia Law