Richard Prince and the Increasingly Permissive Treatment of Infringement
Earlier this month, a federal judge in New York denied a motion to dismiss a copyright infringement suit against notorious “Instagram artist” Richard Prince, setting the stage for another transformative fair use showdown. The lawsuit is the latest turn in an ongoing debate—often involving Prince or similar artists—over what qualifies as transformative in the digital age, as more and more artists engage in acts of appropriation with questionable amounts of added expression. And while it appears the District Judge in New York may not subscribe to a broad interpretation of the limits of fair use, a significant win for Prince in the Second Circuit and the seemingly limitless application of the transformative purpose fair use theory represent a continuing slide towards an increasingly permissive approach to copyright infringement.
Whether an act of appropriation is sufficiently
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