Rumors have been swirling that judges in the Patrick Cariou v. Richard Prince copyright lawsuit are nearing a decision. But while the outcome of the ongoing appeal has been eagerly anticipated on both sides, there’s a good chance the answer won’t be a simple “guilty” or “not guilty” for Prince. Instead, legal experts expect the judgment to fall somewhere in between, or perhaps even branch off into dozens of rulings — one for each painting in the contested series.
Last year, U.S. district court judge Deborah Batts sent shock waves through the art world when she ruled that Prince’s “Canal Zone” collages, which incorporate photographs from Cariou’s book, “Yes, Rasta,” infringed on the photographer’s copyright. Batts wrote that Prince didn’t meet the four standards of the fair use principle, and that ultimately the paintings — some of which are worth more than $10 million — could be destroyed.
Whatever the outcome of Prince’s appeal, that penalty doesn’t seem likely to stand. In May, one of the three appellate court judges, Barrington Parker, compared the injunction to “something that would appeal to, you know, Huns or the Taliban.” In fact, according to Columbia University law professor Philippa Loengard, it’s “very unlikely” that the judges will uphold the lower court’s decision in its entirety. “I would bet millions that’s not going to happen,” she told ARTINFO.
So, we asked Loengard, what are the other possible scenarios?