Lynn Goldsmith’s Prince Portrait and its Legacy in Case Law
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For anyone familiar with the photo industry, the mammoth lawsuit between The Andy Warhol Foundation and renowned music photographer Lynn Goldsmith should be no secret. This complex battle over the rights to her 1981 portrait of the artist formerly known as Prince lasted seven years and went all the way to the Supreme Court.   But do you know the circumstances behind her original portrait session with the famously reserved musician, and were you aware of all the misinformation about this case that was disseminated in both legal documents and the press?   Lynn is a longtime friend of the show, and our 2017 episode about her extensive, long-term work with the band Kiss, among other crazy stories, was a fan favorite. We invited her back to discuss this case in 2022, when the Supreme Court first agreed to hear it, but heeding the advice of her legal counsel she wisely declined our offer at that time.    In May 2023, the Supreme Court ultimately ruled in Lynn’s favor in a 7-2 decision, which has already been shown to benefit others seeking remedies for the misuse of their creative works.   Yet, while this landmark decision happened last year, the case itself was not officially resolved until very recently—Friday, March 15, 2024, to be exact—a day some might recognize as the Ides of March.   Now that the final resolution has been signed, sealed, and delivered, we felt it was a perfect opportunity for Lynn to give us a recap of this David vs Goliath battle, with all its complexities and underlying bias.   From details about the Fair Use doctrine, to the matter of copyright registration, to her thoughts about the current photographer community, to the importance of standing up for one’s rights, Lynn provides a clear and insightful assessment of one of the most traumatic and threatening experiences that any independent artist can face, as only she can.   To her very core, Lynn believes creativity can make anything possible, an ideology she sums up aptly at the end of our chat.   “I felt like some higher power picked me for this,” she says. “And that I had to make myself feel like a 1940s film with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, where there was going to be a happy ending, that everything would work out just fine, and that I was going to prevail.”   Guest: Lynn Goldsmith Top shot © Lynn Goldsmith   Episode Timeline: 2:50: The backstory to Lynn Goldsmith’s 1981 photo session with Prince. 7:17: Shooting both color and black-and-white in the days of film, a separate camera for each option. 11:15: Vanity Fair’s 1984 use of Lynn’s black and white portrait for artist reference.   13:47: Lynn’s discovery of the original image use after Prince died in 2016.  19:50: The value of saving detailed records of licensing agreements for future reference. 23:14: The preemptive lawsuit the Andy Warhol Foundation filed against Lynn, and the misinformation contained in the Federal court filing. 32:15: Lynn discusses the Fair Use doctrine and the matter of copyright registration in relation to her case. 36:43: Episode Break 38:04: Meeting with the Andy Warhol Foundation and the deal on offer to resolve the lawsuit. 44:40: Lynn’s thoughts about the current photographer community and the importance of standing up for your rights. 48:09: The multiple rounds of the Prince portrait lawsuit, from the first Federal case to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals to the Supreme Court. 56:29: Uneven reporting about the lawsuit in the press, with the photo press being fearful to write anything, and the art press releasing misinformation without fact checks. 1:00:27: Behind the scenes at the Supreme Court hearing, the effects of the 7 – 2 decision, as well as Justice Kagan’s written opinion. 1:08:48: Lynn’s thoughts about generative AI. Guest Bio: Lynn Goldsmith is a multi-awarded portrait photographer whose work has appeared on and in between th
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