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Glazer's Camera

International Photographer Cariou Wins Copyright Case


French photographer Patrick Cariou has won his copyright lawsuit against New York artist Richard Prince and the Gagosian Gallery.

The ruling was issued by a federal court in New York earlier this month, after the judge deemed that Prince had misused Cariou’s images by creating a series of paintings, as well as a collage, from photographs torn from Cariou's book “Yes, Rasta."

Cariou sued Prince after he exhibited a collage titled “Canal Zone” at a hotel in St. Barts from December 2007 to February 2008, in which he used 35 photographs from “Yes, Rasta.” Cariou’s book was published in 2000 by PowerHouse Books, and featured portraits of Rastafarians and landscapes of Jamaica.

As part of his defense, Cariou argued that Prince’s images were “compilations of facts” and, therefore, not protected by copyright law. The court, however, ruled that Prince had not used the image in “fair use,” as the images were not used as a commentary on Prince’s work or in an educational format.

During the exhibition, Prince sold several of the pieces for a total of more than $10 million.

The court also ruled that the gallery deliberately evaded Cariou’s clear copyright notices and caused the photographer to lose potential business by “usurping” the market space. Cariou had planned to show his “Yes, Rasta” pictures at a New York gallery owned by Christiane Celle, but the show was canceled because the owner did not want to exhibit work that had been “done already” at another gallery.