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Photographer accuses artist of copyright infringement

Being an artist requires a great deal of work. For one photo shoot for example, a photographer in California may spend hours traveling and setting up the shoot for a single picture. One photographer, Eric McNatt, claims that such was a case in a photograph he took that was subsequently published in Paper magazine. Despite his efforts, he has recently accused artist Richard Prince of copyright infringement after Prince allegedly reproduced the image without permission.

The case involves a photograph of Kim Gordon, member of the band Sonic Youth. McNatt claims he traveled to her house to take the picture -- which he copyrighted -- in July 2014, and it was published in Paper -- both in the print magazine, online and on its social media account -- in Sept. 2014. In Feb. 2015, he also licensed the photograph for a one time use to Vogue.com. He also published the picture on his social media accounts, allegedly indicating that it was copyrighted.

The lawsuit accuses Prince of obtaining the picture online and publishing it on his account -- which has since been deleted -- with a caption. The only changes to the image were allegedly some minor cropping. That image was then printed on a canvas with comments Prince added on social media and displayed at Blum & Poe's, an art gallery, and used in a book about the exhibit. Both Blum & Poe's and another company that allegedly published the image on its website and gave information for ordering a print are named as defendants in the case in addition to Prince. McNatt accuses all three defendants of failing to obtain permission to use his image.

Most artists are protective of their work, wanting to ensure that any use of the products of their creativity accurately reflects their vision. However, there are certain allowed uses of copyrighted work known as fair use. When parties disagree on what is fair use and what is copyright infringement, a lawsuit can occur. Fortunately, there are attorneys with experience with such cases in California who can help.

Source: news.artnet.com, "Richard Prince Slapped With Yet Another Copyright Lawsuit", Eileen Kinsella, Nov. 18, 2016

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