Supreme Court Rules Against Andy Warhol Estate in Prince Portrait Copyright Case

The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that Andy Warhol’s silkscreen portrait of prince the photographer violated Lynn Goldsmithcopyright by, NBC News reports. The court’s 7-2 decision, authored by Justice Sonia Sotomayor, said Warhol’s work did not constitute “fair use” because the two images had the same commercial purpose: accompanying magazine articles about Prince. Pitchfork reached out to Andy Warhol Foundation and Lynn Goldsmith for comment.

Warhol did a bright color treatment of the 1981 black and white photograph of Goldsmith Vanity FairNovember 1984 issue; it is published with permission from Goldsmith. However, various unlicensed images were created by Warhol and published in the magazine’s 2016 Prince tribute. The Andy Warhol Foundation authorized their publication, and Goldsmith is not credited.

Goldsmith and the Warhol Foundation sued each other in 2017, and in 2019, a federal judge ruled in the foundation’s favor. At the time, the judge admitted that Warhol’s work was transformative. In 2021, an appeals court ruled in Goldsmith’s favor, prompting the Warhol Foundation to seek a Supreme Court review.

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