Arts & Law : The Prince’s Affair

 

The Prince Affair. The celebrated American Artist Richard Prince, has been ordered to destroy some of his Works, because its exhibition breaches the Copyright Law. The painter and photographer is famous due to his collages on pre-existing photographs.  Since “Untitled Cowboy” a Collection published in The New York Times years ago, the “Re-Fotography” of previous photographs is the axe of Prince’s career, who used to take Pictures from advertisements or newspapers.

In this opportunity Prince adapted  previous Works of French  artist and photographer Patrick Carioù, by adding special effects to the pre-existing photos.

In December 2008  the  artist and photographer Patrick Carioù started a suit against Richard Prince, the Gagosian Art Gallery and Rizzoli International Publications because of the infrigement of the Copyright Law at Prince’s Canal Zone Exhibit.

Prince and the Gagosian Gallery was said to have infringed Cariou’s Copyright and were found to have acted in bad faith by not asking permission, to make all  those “interventions”.

A New York federal Court ruled that the paintings which reworked a series of photographs of the French artist, had breached the Copyright Law.  Patrick Carioù’s photos focus on African Lifestyle with a documental characther. The photos appeared for the first time at Carioù’s 2000 publication “Yes, Rasta”  a photographic book produced after spending six years documenting Jamaican Rastafarians. Prince admitted using 41 photos, but had claimed “fair-use” for transforming the original Works. Prince’s Lawyers had appealed saying that Carioù’s  Works were “mere compilations of facts arranged with minimun creativity and were therefore not protectable”. But in contrast of this ridiculous affirmation the Court rouled that “A new piece should create something plainly different from the original.” And that “Prince appropiated entire photos and therefore unfairly damage both actual and potential markets for Carioú’s original photos”.

Since that legal incident Carioù’s Gallery cancelled the “Yes, Rasta”  scheduled exhibition  because they do not want to exhibit Works already shown in another Gallery.

The financial benefit for the Gagosian  on the infringement is self-evident. The exhibition which was entitled “Canal Zone” had been sold for more than ten millions dollars, and other Works have been exchanged for other Works of arts. Prince and the Gagosian have been ordered to destroy all the painting. They also have been ordered to tell buyers that the paintings were not lawfully made and cannot lawfully be displayed because the markets for Carioú’s photos were usurped by Richard Prince.

 Beatriz Acosta

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