Over on ARTINFO.com they are reporting that Gagosian’s lawyers are claiming fair use in the appropriation of 22 of Patrick Cariou’s images by Richard Prince which is hardly surprising. Prince has also issued the standard “these images are not that distinctive” and “I’ve made them better” probably under the direction of his lawyers or maybe he’s done this enough to know you have to pretend the photographs are not that important to the art work.
As a side note Fairey is doing the same thing with the Mannie Garcia image he used for his Obama poster and has gone so far as to claim he used an image that isn’t an exact match (story here). But, of course he also said he sorted through thousands of images to find the one he wanted to copy for the poster so that doesn’t really sound like “any image will do” now does it.
Cariou feels the same way because he can’t understand why Prince would use 22 of his images if there’s nothing distinctive about them. In the end I think this one will not land in the courts. Apparently Cariou has already received a settlement proposal and it’s just missing a few zeros. And, let’s all be honest here if you saw your photographs selling for $1.5-$3 million after they had been
slightly altered “turned into art” wouldn’t you settle for a piece of the action? Or maybe it’s just a matter of paying a licensing fee plus a penalty for not getting it in advance and all will be fine.