Every Artist Matters: The Supreme Court Protects Photographer Goldsmith in the Warhol Litigation

The Supreme Court decided today that the late Andy Warhol infringed upon the rights of photographer Lynn Goldsmith when he used her photograph of music legend Prince to create a silkscreen rendering of the late artist. The Court agreed with Goldsmith that Warhol’s use was not permitted under the copyright doctrine of Fair Use, which allows the use of a copyrighted work without the creator’s permission under certain circumstances.

“Today’s decision ensures the vitality of the Fair Use doctrine while protecting artists, particularly marginalized and developing artists, from the distortion of the doctrine into a tool for the misappropriation of one artist’s work by another artist with greater fame and public recognition,” said Lateef Mtima, Director of the Institute for Intellectual Property and Social Justice. “Elite patrons of the arts often gravitate to the work of famous artists, and in many situations are ignorant of the predecessor works produced by marginalized and lesser-known artists and which have been unfairly misappropriated by artists of renown. The Institute filed an amicus brief in support of photographer Goldsmith to support the proper application of the Fair Use doctrine as a critical tool to promote learning through and creative building upon artistic and literary achievement, while respecting the legitimate ownerships rights and artistic interests of creators in their work.”

The Supreme Court’s decision can be found here.



The Institute for Intellectual Property and Social Justice works to promote social justice in the field of intellectual property law and practice, both domestically and globally. Advocating for core principles of socially equitable access, inclusion, and empowerment throughout the IP ecosystem, IIPSJ’s work ranges broadly and includes scholarly examination of IP law from a social justice perspective; advocacy for social justice cognizance in the shaping and implementation of IP legislation and policy; initiatives to increase the diversity of the IP bar; and programs which promote greater awareness and understanding of IP protection, particularly among historically and currently disadvantaged and underserved groups, to empower them to exploit intellectual property effectively.