On Wednesday photo licensing services Getty Images and Corbis filed a “friend-of-the-court” brief in support of photographer Patrick Cariou’s copyright infringement lawsuit against the artist Richard Prince, whose “Canal Zone” paintings incorporate Mr. Cariou’s photographs of Rastafarians.
The case dates back to Mr. Prince’s 2008 show at the Gagosian gallery “Canal Zone,” and the artist and gallery are currently in the midst of appealing a decision that would have them destroy tens of millions of dollars in art because it was not deemed “transformative” enough to be protected under fair use. The gallery brought in a new legal team and Mr. Cariou’s lawyers have offered a response to their appeal. A few details about the new amicus curiae brief, courtesy of The Art Newspaper:
“The photographers and licensing agencies argue that a ruling in favour of Prince, an artist ‘who decides to use a work but cannot be bothered to ask permission and pay a fee,’ would harm all photographers and photo agencies. They say that they rely on licensing for their livelihoods, and that reversing the lower court ruling would impair the US constitution’s guarantee of copyright for a limited period, destroying their incentive to create and their ability to support themselves.
“Getty and Corbis alone handle tens of millions of images worldwide, and although no figures are available for these privately owned companies, in 2007 CNNMoney magazine estimated their combined annual sales at more than $1bn.”
Corbis, you’ll recall, is owned by Bill Gates. The tech sector actually jumped into this case late last year with another amicus brief from longtime fair use supporter Google, which came out in favor of Mr. Prince and argued, in part, that “a use need not comment on the original in order to be transformative.”