The Supreme Court Agrees to Review Warhol Copyright Ruling

Takeaway: The U.S. Supreme Court has taken up the confusing copyright fair use question of transformative use and the line between artistic expression and free speech versus an author’s copyright rights to exclude unauthorized uses of derivative works. This should provide better guidance as to what is and is not allowable use under Copyright Law.

Following a petition that the U.S. Supreme Court should explain a circuit split on what makes a work transformative, the Court accepted to review the Second Circuit’s decision on its Warhol ruling. The Circuit previously decided that Andy Warhol’s artwork depicting Prince did not make fair use of a photograph of the music artist. Specifically, the Appeals Court found that Warhol’s work retained the “essential elements of its source material” and was not “fundamentally different and new.”

It is currently unknown how the U.S. Supreme Court will ultimately rule on the Andy Warhol Foundation v. Goldsmith case. We will update you on the court’s final ruling.

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