Richard Prince Finally Sued for Ripping Off an Instagram Photo

Jan 5, 2016

Liron Samuels

Liron Samuels is a wildlife and commercial photographer based in Israel. When he isn’t waking up at 4am to take photos of nature, he stays awake until 4am taking photos of the night skies or time lapses. You can see more of his work on his website or follow him on Facebook.

Richard Prince Finally Sued for Ripping Off an Instagram Photo

Jan 5, 2016

Liron Samuels

Liron Samuels is a wildlife and commercial photographer based in Israel. When he isn’t waking up at 4am to take photos of nature, he stays awake until 4am taking photos of the night skies or time lapses. You can see more of his work on his website or follow him on Facebook.

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Back in May artist (and I use that term lightly in this case) Richard Prince enraged photographers worldwide when he took photos from Instagram, added a comment on the photos and sold them in a New York gallery for up to $100,000 a piece. All this was done without getting permission from the owners of the photos, without sharing the profits, and without even informing them that he had used their photo.

Many called for the owners of the ripped off photos to take legal action against Prince, and last week a federal suit was finally filed against him and the Gagosian Gallery that displayed his “art”.

Accusing both parties of copyright infringement, photographer Donald Graham filed the complaint for the use without permission of “Rastafarian Smoking a Joint” without permission.

Not that it should make any difference, but the photo Prince appropriated was reposted by rastajay92.

To this post Prince added the comment “richardprince4 Canal Zinian da lam jam” and an emoji and called it his own. According to artnet, the complaint states that Prince used the original photo “fully intact” and mentions that other than adding the comment on the Instagram interface all he did was a small crop.

As part of the complaint, Graham’s lawyers included two images, the original photo and a photo of the artwork Prince had displayed as part of his “New Portraits” exhibition, as exhibits for the court to review:

 

Donald Graham's original image
Donald Graham’s original image

 

Richard Prince's appropriation
Richard Prince’s appropriation

Sadly Prince has built much of his career by appropriating other people’s work, including selling photographer Sam Abell’s photo for millions, but the court has taken Prince’s side in the past – at least in part.

A legal battle between Patrick Cariou and Prince which began in 2008 had its twists and turns before the US Court of Appeals ruled in 2013 that most of Prince’s appropriated works in the case fell under fair use, while they settled the case in 2014 over the remaining few pieces that were to be re-evaluated by the court.

Long before he filed this complaint, Graham expressed his disapproval of Prince’s actions in these Instagram posts:

https://www.instagram.com/p/ujbM_MhWDB/

https://www.instagram.com/p/usyOaLhWML/

One of the other photographers who had a photo ripped off responded by re-appropriating Prince’s $90,000 appropriation of her image and selling it for just $90.

Should Graham’s case be successful, I’m sure it won’t be long before others follow suit in hopes of receiving their share of the $100,000 appropriations, as well as damages for copyright infringement.

[artnet via PetaPixel]

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Liron Samuels

Liron Samuels

Liron Samuels is a wildlife and commercial photographer based in Israel. When he isn’t waking up at 4am to take photos of nature, he stays awake until 4am taking photos of the night skies or time lapses. You can see more of his work on his website or follow him on Facebook.

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10 responses to “Richard Prince Finally Sued for Ripping Off an Instagram Photo”

  1. Ian McArthur Avatar
    Ian McArthur

    Theft, plain and simple.

    1. Walter Lewinski Avatar
      Walter Lewinski

      You right, theft, grand larceny. He should serve prison time, it’s not just copyright infringement!

    2. Aaron Rothwell Avatar
      Aaron Rothwell

      That word you keep using, it does not mean what you think it means. Theft involves something being taken and depriving the owner of it. Copying something is not theft.

    3. Ian McArthur Avatar
      Ian McArthur

      Don’t ever assume something, it makes you look like a fucking idiot. Ok chief?
      http://www.fact-uk.org.uk/content-theft/

  2. Kerry Applin Avatar
    Kerry Applin

    How can he even sleep at night?

    1. Bill McKenzie Avatar
      Bill McKenzie

      On large piles of money with many beautiful women.

    2. Ian McArthur Avatar
      Ian McArthur

      Because he’s a dick.

  3. Mikołaj Stawowy Avatar
    Mikołaj Stawowy

    Appropriation my ass!

  4. JOhn C Avatar
    JOhn C

    Not having in depth legal knowledge it would seem that a simple test should be applied. what is the likelihood that anyone is buying this work for Prince’s ‘contribution’ as opposed to buying it for the original artist’s work. I would think that would be pretty clear. Found this next part on nolo.com they are talking about sampling music, seems it would be similar.

    Factors in determining fair use. Generally, when reviewing fair use questions, courts look for three things:

    You did not take a substantial amount of the original work.

    You transformed the material in some way.

    You did not cause significant financial harm to the copyright owner.

    The only part is “transformed it”, IMO adding comments doesn’t transform. But I’m not a lawyer and I’m sure there’s more to it

  5. Agencia Digital Avatar