Court Rules That Richard Prince Ripped Off Patrick Cariou

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by rcam72, Mar 24, 2011.

  1. rcam72

    rcam72 Member

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    Just read this and wondered what everybody else thought:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/mar/23/richard-prince-artwork-copyright-breach

    Prince's adaptation brings into question where the line between copyright infringement and fair use is. I think the exposure for analog photographers to situations like this one would tend to be that of original creators and would probably lead to a bias against Prince. I'm on the fence regarding wether or not his work can be considered original or not.

    I definitely didn't like Prince's lawyer arguing that Cariou's photos were "mere compilations of facts … arranged with minimum creativity" WTF. Drawing scribbles on someone else's work is though?

    I'm also wondering if the destruction of the works was Cariou's request in the lawsuit or the judges order. It isn't clear from the article and I'm not familiar enough with copyright law to know who decides the penalty in such cases. I'm used to the plaintiffs asking for tons o' dough so I'm guessing it was Cariou's. I'da gone for the payday. All in singles so I could fill a pool with it and pull a Scrooge McDuck.

    Any thoughts,

    Raul
     
  2. SuzanneR

    SuzanneR Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    It's about time. And that comment... "a mere compilation of facts...." is part of the reason photography, especially documentary photography, gets so little respect among the art world. And it's ironic that Prince's lawyer makes such a case, when Prince himself admits he has no skills with the camera or the darkroom, and uses some minilab to make his xeroxed copies.
     
  3. Rick A

    Rick A Subscriber

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    Justice served! The judge should also order Prince and the gallery owner to walk up and down 5th Ave. wearing signs telling that they are thieves.

    Hmm... wonder if someone will have to repay patrons for bogus art?
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 24, 2011
  4. bsdunek

    bsdunek Subscriber

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    Agree that justice was served. Seems like a simple case to me. Also, the gallery should have known better.
     
  5. Moopheus

    Moopheus Subscriber

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    Well, yes, that's why there was a lawsuit. The law itself doesn't specify very precisely where the line is; the question is settled in court (or out of court, as in the Fairey case).

    It's not really a question of originality. It's a matter of using someone else's work without permission. Fair use law recognizes that there are circumstances where that is legitimate, and lays out certain guidelines. This didn't pass. It's derivative within the meaning of copyright law. It's quite possible for a new work (say a movie adaptation of a book to give a common example) to be very different from the original and still be an adaptation that is not covered by fair use.

    There's a good discussion of the case over here:

    http://www.aphotoeditor.com/2011/03/19/richard-prince-loses-fair-use-argument/
     
  6. lxdude

    lxdude Member

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    Such stunning arrogance! His attitude is that the photos were nothing but raw material for a "real artist". The guy scribbles on someone else's photos and now it's some kind of great art, and people pay big bucks for the ugly juvenile crap. Damned if I can understand it.
     
  7. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    Justice served! About time! I hope that this law suit not only wipe out Richard Prince and the Gagosian, but also destroys their careers. The judge was bang on on her decision and this will be upheld on appeals.

    Steve
     
  8. jovo

    jovo Membership Council Council

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    Once again I quote the artist James L. McElhinney: "Art has gotten a bad name as the realm of unctuous charlatans, greedy dealers and their glamortrash clientele--the hang of smartypants fish-wrapper scribblers and toot-brained mummies who dress like Johnny Cash. As cartoon-like as it seems..., the fashionable art world constitutes a tiny fraction of the comprehensive art world, but it has plenty of money behind it."

    We, who wait for the "art" establishment to decree what is and isn't, are fools when we do so.
     
  9. lxdude

    lxdude Member

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    Great quote, John.

    Actually, quotes. Your comment as well.
     
  10. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    "And that comment... "a mere compilation of facts...." is part of the reason photography, especially documentary photography, gets so little respect among the art world."

    I don't disagree that the argument doesn't hold water in the real world (or is it the art world?).

    But it isn't art criticism, it is a legal argument. It deals with the legal meaning of phrases that have a legal context, and are the subject of many legal decisions.

    I don't know, but think that I am safe in guessing, that there are cases where "mere compilations of facts" are not entitled to the protection of copyright. The legal argument being made is that Patrick Cariou's work is more like those "compilations" than original pieces of art.

    When one makes legal arguments, one hopes to gain the benefit of any uncertainty there may be in the factual situation. In this case, clearly there wasn't any such uncertainty.
     
  11. vpwphoto

    vpwphoto Member

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    Richard Prince wins with more publicity.... and the price of his existing art just rose again.

    The photographer is made to look like a raincloud on the parade.

    I have been in similar situations were a designer puts some graphic splooches on a photograph and a little type and wins a "big local award" for the poster and forgets to mention who took the photograph.
     
  12. lxdude

    lxdude Member

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    Right, Matt.
    Prince's lawyers were using whatever angle they could think of. Clearly an attempt to distort the meaning of the compilation concept. A photograph is not a book of trig tables. It makes as much sense as plagiarizing a biography or history, adding to it slightly, and then deeming the original book a mere compilation of facts.
    It is of course revolting that Prince would be willing to crassly remove all artistic value from another's work, but then he was willing to rip off the work in the first place, so I guess it's no surprise.

    How disastrous it would be if that compilation assertion prevailed. Would an unmanipulated landscape shot be a mere compilation? A straight, natural light portrait? A war photographer's work?
     
  13. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    But Richard Prince could be financially ruined and this decision could, hopefully will be, career ending.

    Steve
     
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  15. lxdude

    lxdude Member

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    I'd like to see him discredited to the point he becomes the Prince formerly known as an artist.
     
  16. Hikari

    Hikari Member

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    The issue is clearly not fair use. The "compilation of mere facts" is usually reserved for a data sets. Photographs do not fall under that provision. Nothing in copyright judges "quality" as an issue of ownership, just the creation of a work.

    In other good new, the Google Book Settlement was torpedoed. Google is evil and the good won in this case. And the judge threw out the idea that the copyright holders could be a class that Google could settle with. But be careful if Google tries to lobby congress to alter copyright protection.
     
  17. Klainmeister

    Klainmeister Member

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    Clever. :D
     
  18. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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    I'm not sure where the dollar values in the article come from. If you create something like that which is worthless and destroy it, you have lost nothing. The arbitrary 'value' of these works reeks of the same disillusioned mindset that described Norsigian prints as being worth millions.
     
  19. Jeff Kubach

    Jeff Kubach Member

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    I can't believe that happen! That blew my mind away.

    Jeff
     
  20. rcam72

    rcam72 Member

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    I believe they were the values assigned by the gallery based on pending sales.

    Shepard Fairey used a photograph of Andre the Giant (just watched Exit Through the Gift Shop, he's one of the artists) for his principal piece. Is his use of someone elses work less egregious than Prince's because he only used a portion of it and manipulated it to the point where I had no idea it was Andre until I saw the movie? I'm not sure if the two scenarios can be compared or not. I guess I need to look up "Fair Use" as applied to copyright law.

    Matt, thanks for clearing up the meaning behind the lawyer's comment. I should have gone to law school like my mother wanted. The way it was printed shows whose side The Guardian is on.

    After looking at Prince's Canal Zone again I can understand why Cariou sued. It sucks, in my uneducated, vulgar, crude, uncouth, ill-bred, I don't get it, opinion.

    Raul
     
  21. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Member

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    Equally, if you create something which is potentially worth millions and destroy, you have lost nothing.


    Steve.
     
  22. Moopheus

    Moopheus Subscriber

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    Particularly since, as the judge in the case noted, it's been a matter of settled case law for the better part of a century that photographs are original works in the meaning of copyright law. To base your defense on a theory that was dispensed with decades ago is really weak.
     
  23. Rob Skeoch

    Rob Skeoch Advertiser Advertiser

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    I'm betting the photographer who did the real work would rather have the 10m in cash.
    -rob
     
  24. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    this doesn't really change much in the grand scheme of things.
    he'll still make his artwork and still sell it .. and he'll just be
    more careful of whose work he uses as the foundation of HIS images ..
     
  25. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    I expect that the argument wasn't an attempt to upset the case law, but rather an attempt to distinguish that case law by characterizing Patrick Cariou's work as something so mundane as to not be entitled to protection.

    The argument might work if the "purloined" photographs came from something like, as an example, a mall security camera.
     
  26. JOSarff

    JOSarff Member

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    From the Gardian article
    "Prince has often made a virtue of his appropriation art.... He told Art Forum magazine in 2003: "I had limited technical skills regarding the camera. Actually, I had no skills … I used a cheap commercial laboratory to blow up the pictures … I never went in a darkroom."

    "Prince's lawyers had told Deborah Batts, a federal judge sitting in Manhattan, that Cariou's photographs of Rastafarians, taken over six years, were "mere compilations of facts … arranged with minimum creativity … [and were] therefore not protectable" by copyright law."

    Frankly, Prince's arrogance is staggering and one would hope that not only will ne have to destroy his copies of the Cariou photograph’s, as already ordered, but will also refund the sales to art patrons that purchased his frauds then finally pay a very hefty settlement to Mr. Cariou.

    Perhaps the art patrons that were fooled by Prince should buy the real thing this time.