The Supreme Court ruled against the Warhol Foundation yesterday, May 18, on the case of Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. v Goldsmith.
Using an iconic image of Prince shot by photographer Lynn Goldsmith in 1981, Andy Warhol transformed it into a series of artworks in the 1980s. Warhol’s interpretations of the image were his classic pop-art style, including vibrant colors and stylistic alterations. Goldsmith only learned about Warhol’s work in 2016 and immediately filed a lawsuit against the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, alleging copyright infringement.
Recording Industry Association of America® (RIAA) Chairman and CEO Mitch Glazier responded to the ruling.
“We applaud the Supreme Court’s considered and thoughtful decision that claims of ‘transformative use’ cannot undermine the basic rights given to all creators under the Copyright Act. Lower courts have misconstrued fair use for too long and we are grateful the Supreme Court has reaffirmed the core purposes of copyright. We hope those who have relied on distorted – and now discredited – claims of ‘transformative use,’ such as those who use copyrighted works to train artificial intelligence systems without authorization, will revisit their practices in light of this important ruling.”
The Supreme Court ruling has challenged the status quo by redefining the boundaries around fair use and copyright protection. It clarified that aesthetic changes alone are not sufficient to warrant fair use protection, and the transformative use must have a significant impact on the original work. The ruling provides protection to photographers and artists to maintain control.
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