Appropriation and Richard Prince

Work by Richard Prince—in the Canal Zone exhibit
Who is Richard Prince:
from wiki:
Richard Prince (born 1949 in the Panama Canal Zone) is an American painter and photographer. Prince began appropriation photographs in 1975...
Re-photography uses appropriation as its own focus: artists pull from the works of others and the worlds they depict to create their own work.

He's been in the news lately....he got sued for his appropriation of photographs, specifically, images from Patrick Cariou, a photographer who is author of  the book “Yes Rasta". I always watch with keen interest when I see collagists brought to court. If you have followed this blog, you have heard of my exploits with copyright issues, and how recently I purged more than 50% of my ephemera collection in order to push myself to create more of my own pieces for collage work.
Sadly, Richard lost the case. I am not aware of the specific details of this case, so I cannot comment on this outcome. It is interesting to note, however, that the judge not only found Richard Prince guilty, he also found the gallery that represents him (Gagosian!) guilty too! This is a HUGE blow to collage art and appropriation in general.
Step lightly, my friends!
I suppose, if your work isn't selling in the 6 figure range, most likely no one will be suing or bothering you. Once you reach that threshold....and it becomes more about the money....it appears as though the courts do not easily rule in your favor. How many times have you taken a photo from any other source but your own and embellished it?
Again, since I don't know of the nitty gritty details of this case, I can't make much of a judgement. But as a full time collagist, I still find this all so very disturbing. 

To flip the coin:
Really. How hard would it have been for Mr. Prince to go and get his own Rasta photos?  He has the money to do so. Or he could even search (Flickr) Creative Commons for other pix to use. I feel this man could have avoided the whole problem by taking his own pix.  Go figure!

Article in the New York Times about the case is here.
More about Richard Prince can be found on wiki here.
And finally, a link about the very exhibition causing the problems for Mr. Prince is here.

Work by Richard Prince—in the Canal Zone exhibit

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