Could Warhol Do His Thing Today?
September 25, 2006 8:33 PM   Subscribe

Could Andy Warhol do his art today or would he be sued to from here to Pluto for copyright infringement? I'm talking specifically about his silkscreen paintings where he used source imagery by others (Elvis, Marilyn, the disaster series, etc.)

I'm also curious if he was sued by the original photographers in his lifetime.
posted by extrabox to Law & Government (5 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
That's fair use all over.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 8:39 PM on September 25, 2006

I don't know about answering the hypothetical, but he might laugh a little about his Foundation filing infringment lawsuits today.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:40 PM on September 25, 2006

It depends, largely on thee state and the administration it appears. More here. If I recall he did get sued when he silkscreened a photograph from a photographer (a way around it is to photograph the advertisement as he photographed the campbell's soup can). Really, very variable on a lot of things I don't think there is a definitive answer and each case must be taken individually.
posted by geoff. at 8:42 PM on September 25, 2006


PATRICIA CAULFIELD, who took the photograph that Warhol used for his Flower paintings, brought a lawsuit against him. After a "long, costly court case", Warhol eventually agreed to give her several paintings and a percentage of all profits from future reproductions of the painting as prints. (LD260)

and more...

My feeling is that because he was famous it would be bad PR to sue him over creating the art. Commercial artists (such as those whose photographs he silkscreened) stand to either not gain or gain a lot -- no loss. They took on the lawsuits and won. I think Campbell may have had a case taken out of context of being Andy Warhol, especially in today's climate.
posted by geoff. at 8:52 PM on September 25, 2006

I think he could have been sued for infringement, and fair use wouldn't apply. Think of the Campbell's soup can. He sold these paintings for a lot of money, and he copied the artwork exactly.

1. the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
2. the nature of the copyrighted work;
3. the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
4. the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

1. it is for profit - he sells the paintings to make a living. It is definitely not non-profit
2. The product label is highly original, featuring unique color placement, font and symbol placement etc.
3. The entire portion of the label is duplicated.
4. the painting won't affect the market for soup, but what if campbells wants to sell posters of its distinctive label? Warhol reproductions would defeinitely interfere with that, because obviously people want the warhol repro, not hte Campbell's poster.
posted by Pastabagel at 9:27 AM on September 26, 2006

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