[Frameworks] Re-authored Imagery Culled from Commercial DVDs

David Tetzlaff djtet53 at gmail.com
Thu Jan 5 09:08:44 CST 2012

The key here is this quote from just below the lead:

> taking photographs from a book about Rastafarians and using them without permission to create the collages and a series of paintings based on them, which quickly sold for serious money even by today’s gilded art-world standards: almost $2.5 million for one of the works.

Copyright is about money. This is a mater for civil, not criminal litigation. Regardless of what the prevailing fair Use interpretation is, no one is going to spend the time and money to take you to court unless either a) you have deep pockets, or b) they have money to burn AND 1) your work is available in commercial markets where it could reasonably be confused with their product (c.f. Negativland / U2) or 2) they're REALLY paranoid about their brands (c.f. Walt Disney). 

That said, in the miniscule lijlihood a copyright holder does want to come after you, you're in trouble... not because you'd lose in court (you'd probably win if you have ANY recontextualizing artistic intent), but becuase you don't have the time and money to fight it out.

FWIW, it seems like Prince mounted an incompetent case:

> [Prince] also made it clear that he was not making art that commented on [the original] work itself. (Judge Batts ruled that for a work to be transformative it must “in some way comment on, relate to the historical context of, or critically refer back to the original works” it borrows from, a test she said Mr. Prince’s work failed.)

But I think almost ANY appropriated imagery can be argued to be in dialogue with it's source in some critical way, if you think about it, which it seems Prince chose not to do, rather standing on his ethos as an Artiste (It is my art!), a bad choice in this case (not to mention silly, regardless).

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