SCOTUS Weighs Arguments Between Art, Theft in Warhol Case

Photo: artnewspaper

The Facts

  • SCOTUS will hear arguments Wednesday surrounding a copyright dispute between the late artist Andy Warhol's estate and celebrity photographer Lynn Goldsmith over paintings that are based on a 1981 photograph she took of the rock star Prince.

  • Goldsmith has claimed that Warhol's silkscreen image of Prince was based too closely on her photograph, whereas Warhol's foundation has argued the artwork falls under the fair use doctrine.

The Spin

Narrative A

Warhol's use of the image was fair use, and although Goldsmith has a reason to be frustrated, her litigation is going too far. This case threatens to diminish an established doctrine that allows artists the right to creative expression by building on established works in a reasonable manner.

Narrative B

Warhol’s work shouldn't be able to compete with Goldsmith’s original photo in the marketplace, and she had a right to share in the license of any of Warhol’s works that used hers as inspiration. There has been too much devaluing of artists, particularly photographers, by social media. Print media shouldn’t be contributing to this problem.

Articles on this story

Sign up to our daily newsletter