The name ”Richard Prince” is not a household one but within the appropriation art world this name rings familiar. Prince was a well-known contributor to the Gagosian Gallery; Prince is also known to use other individual’s pictures and artwork (and then claims it as his own). As a result of this, Prince has found himself in constant lawsuits over copyright infringement. The most recent of these suits being brought against Prince by Instagram model Ashley Salazar over a two-year old picture the model put up on the social media site.
In another incident, Doe Deere a member of the SuicideGirls burlesque collective came to know from a third party about how Prince had sold a picture she had posted on Instagram for 90,000 dollars; Donald Graham brought a suit against both Richard Prince as well as Gagosian Gallery after the two parties used Graham’s image and placed it in Prince’s 2014 ”New Portraits” exhibition.
The issue that arose was not that Prince had used the images of the original persons but that Prince had used these images without any permission or credit. This is a clear-cut infringement and as a result the suits arose.
However Prince has gone on the record to defend himself against the countless copyright infringement suits he has been subjected to; according to ”the Fashion Law” – an online blog that tackles fashion, business and legal topics – Prince asked the court to dismiss the case brought by Donald Graham against him on the grounds that ”(it is) an attempt to essentially re-litigate his controversial fair use victory against another photographer” per Law360. ( He is referring to his 2013 victory in a separate copyright infringement matter).
When another online blog – artnet.com – asked Stanford Law School professor, Paul Goldstein, his take on the entire situation Richard Prince found himself in the professor had the following to say:
“It is a basic rule of copyright law that infringement is measured not by how much the alleged infringer added but by the amount of the copyrighted work that he took…So Prince’s modest additions don’t, as a fundamental matter, excuse what he did.”
The suits brought by Salazar and Graham are yet to be heard but if we are to take into account Mr. Goldstein’s opinion as well as the facts of the two cases then there is a high probability that the court may not follow the judgement made in the Caribou 2013 case and Prince may just as well be held accountable of copyright infringement.
However it would be wrong to rule out a judgement being made in favour of Prince. More details to follow as the case unfolds.