Andy Warhol Foundation Seeks Supreme Court Review of Fair Use Case

A complex legal issue got even more complicated

Andy Warhol
Andy Warhol in the 1970s.
Behr/ullstein bild via Getty Images

What happens when an artist uses a work created by another artist to create something new? That’s at the center of a pitched legal battle playing out right now between the Andy Warhol Foundation and photographer Lynn Goldstein. At the heart of the matter are a number of paintings of Prince that Warhol made in 1984, based on a photograph that Goldstein took of the iconic musician three years earlier.

Goldstein sued the Foundation, who initially won in court in 2019. Earlier this year, the decision was reversed in Goldstein’s favor. And now, we’ve reached the next step — the law firm representing the Andy Warhol Foundation has, according to The Art Newspaper, requested that the Supreme Court revisit the previous ruling.

Roman Martinez — a partner in the law firm Latham & Watkins, who is representing the Foundation — has cited the importance of the “fair use” doctrine related to this case. And, as The Art Newsspaper‘s article points out, Warhol is far from being the only prominent artist who has incorporated the works of other artists in their creations.

Is there precedent either side can rely on? Another high-profile fair use case, related to Shepard Fairey’s iconic “HOPE” image of Barack Obama, resulted in an out-of-court settlement. But musicians aren’t the only artists to embrace sampling and remixing — and it isn’t hard to imagine that many visual artists are monitoring this case carefully for what it could signal for the future.

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