When The Federal District Court of New York delivered a ruling of "Fair Use" on July 1st , it made the copyright protection on my 1981 studio portrait of the iconic musician Prince basically meaningless. This legal decision was a blow to intellectual property for all visual artists, especially photographers. The decision is public record and should be looked at by anyone who wants to understand why their original works may not be full protected under the copyright law. In past few years decisions in copyright lawsuits have sometimes 'broadened' rights because of the description of what is 'transformative' under the Fair Use aspect of the copyright law. With the decision made on July 1st, I find one of the the issues at stake is whether a copyright owner's rights can be trampled on in the name of a famous artist taking it and, therefore, it is considered “transformed. “ This would mean a famous artist can take the work of the creator without their permission, change it anyway they like, and use as they will under the legal term "Fair Use.” The person/artist who changed the copyright holder’s image can actually copyright that image! What will this mean in today's world with Apps where anyone can take another person’s photo and in seconds change it enough by which they can call it theirs?….Where is the line drawn as to rights of the creator? In the music industry the record labels fought to define how much of a song can be taken without the permission of the creator, the copyright holder, under the "Fair Use" aspect. If we were to apply the court's decision on July 1st - then Tony Bennett who has a well known style and sound should own the copyright to the song "I LEFT MY HEART IN SAN FRANCISCO.' ! How would the lyricist and musician who wrote it feel about that ?
I ask myself what kind of place is the USA if someone can 'take' your work because they are famous and claim it as their art?
Andy Warhol had been sued a number of times before. All of those cases were settled. I believe the Foundation is relying on the "fair use" part of the copyright law, to broaden the interpretation of what is "transformative" and thus never be sued again for copyright infringement. The lawyer representing them also represented Richard Prince. It seems to me, he has a vested interest in getting known for representing rich artists who take images without permission and making case law that protects them. If that was his and/or their motivation, they succeeded in my case with the ruling given by Federal Court. If I don't take this legal battle on and appeal this decision to a higher court, it can mean every photographer, every visual artist, even though their image is copyrighted, will not be protected from having their work claimed by someone else to do the work as they want, no permission from the original created needed.
There are more than 150,000 photographers in the United States. I don’t know how many visual artists in other areas there are but if each were to donate $10 each, we'd have the money needed for legal costs in this battle. The Warhol Foundation is the richest arts organization in the world. I've been one person battling them with help from people who have donated on mywww.gofundme.com/warholvsgoldsmith. I took out a loan to pay about the $400,000.00 I have already spent battling this the past 2 years. I need your help to continue this legal battle not just with money but with using your time, your voice, to speak to your community, your schools, your artist friends, that if we want the copyright law to do what I believe congress meant for it to do when they wrote the law..... protect artists, then they will go to their social networks and express themselves and ask others to do so as well about the rights of creators and the importance of them to this country.
With your help both financially and in sharing what this is about, I hope to define what is transformative under the fair use aspect of the copyright law so that no one else has to endure what I've had to, so that heirs to work can benefit from what was left to them, and so that future creators who copyright their work will never have to battle for their rights against deep pocketed artists, businesses, or foundations.
It's time for us to STAND TOGETHER, to show that we will protect our rights and will not be intimidated by the money it costs to be in the fight.
Please join me in this crusade. Every dollar, every word, every signature of support is meaningful. www.gofundme.com/warholvsgoldsmith sincerely Lynn Goldsmith