Andy Warhol Foundation settles dispute with photographer in landmark copyright case

Lynn Goldsmith describes payment of just over $21,000 as a “drop in the bucket” of her legal costs
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - EXACT DATE UNKNOWN - CIRCA 1990 - very rare photo of Andy Warhol and Joanne Worley attending a celebrity event

Andry Warhol with actor, comedian and singer Jo Anne Worley Vicki L. Miller; Shutterstock

The Andy Warhol Foundation (AWF) and photographer Lynn Goldsmith have settled their copyright case that had reached the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS), according to New York district court filings on Friday, 15 March.

Last May, SCOTUS rejected the fair use defence and found that AWF had infringed the copyright of her 1981 photo of Prince in Warhol’s silk screens of the music artist.

In 1984, Warhol made a silkscreen for the magazine Vanity Fair using Goldsmith’s photo and it paid her $400 for this one off use.

The pop art pioneer derived 15 additional works from her photo and, in 2016, his estate licensed one of these works to Condé Nast. AWF came away with $10,000; Goldsmith received nothing. When Goldsmith informed AWF that she believed its use of her photograph infringed her copyright, AWF sued her.

According to district court filings, AWF has agreed to pay Goldsmith $10,250 for its 2016 Condé Nast licence.

The parties also agreed that Goldsmith is entitled to $11,272.94 in taxable costs. The parties will otherwise be responsible for their own costs, including attorneys’ fees.

Goldsmith did not ask for relief for the original creation because “the statute of limitations had already expired on any claims for that original creation”. AWF has therefore also agreed to withdraw its claim for declaratory relief regarding the original series.

But AWF maintains that the original creation of the Prince Series “was fair use, and that nothing in the Supreme Court’s opinion undermines that view”.

After the district court ruling, In an instagram post, Goldsmith said the amount is a “drop in the bucket of the millions in legal costs”. She went on to say she appreciated any donations or support through social media networks to her ‘gofundme’ page. She added: “If my legal costs are ever reimbursed from donations, that money will go to starting a legal fund for others who find themselves in the position of having to protect their work.”

AWF was represented by Latham & Watkins’ Roman Martinez and Andrew Gass and trial lawyers Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan’s Luke Nikas and Maaren Shah.

Following the ruling, Latham said that given that Goldsmith has now withdrawn any claim that Andy Warhol violated her copyrights when he created the Prince Series in 1984, “the Foundation is happy to put this litigation to rest and move forward with its work supporting up-and-coming artists. The Foundation wishes Ms. Goldsmith the best”.

Goldsmith was represented by US litigation firm Williams & Connolly’s Thomas G Hentoff and Kathryn E Garza, New York-based IP lawyer Joel L Hecker and boutique firm Herrick, Feinstein’s Barry Werbin.

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