The New York Times takes up the Richard Prince-Patrick Cariou copyright case today bending the story toward the broader implications the case might have on the mash-up culture of digitized content. But deeper in the story, we get Richard Prince’s own defense which is hardly the “everybody does it” shrug that story first suggests.
In depositions, Prince is straight-forward in his denial that his work is meant to comment in any way upon his source materials as the law allows. Perhaps it shouldn’t have to:
Joshua Schiller, Mr. Prince’s appeals lawyer from the firm Boies, Schiller & Flexner, said the boundary is whether a new work of art results from the borrowing. And he argued that it was clear that Mr. Prince had made parts of Mr. Cariou’s pictures into distinctive Richard Prince works, not just copy them to pass them off as his own and deprive Mr. Cariou of his livelihood. Whether the work was successful and whether Mr. Prince’s intentions were interesting or even explainable can be left to debate. But the primary intention was to create a work of art, Mr. Schiller said, and that is the kind of creativity the law seeks to encourage.
“This is not piracy,” he said. “These are not handbags.”